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Head of the Charles Regatta reunites alumni rowers

MIT crews head off in the gathering dusk to practice for last weekend's Head of the Charles Regatta.
MIT crews head off in the gathering dusk to practice for last weekend's Head of the Charles Regatta.
Photo / Laura Wulf

Linda E. Muri had never rowed before several housemates at the pika living group introduced her to the sport 19 years ago. She hasn't stopped yet.

Muri, who received the S.B. in aeronautics and astronautics in 1985, won the women's masters singles race in the Head of the Charles Regatta on Sunday in 20 minutes, 27.88 seconds, more than three seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Competing for the MIT Boat Club in her 12th Head of the Charles, it was her fifth first-place medal and her first in a single scull.

"It was the first time I've raced in the Head of the Charles in a single in about 10 years, so it was special," said Muri, who coaches freshman lightweight crew at Harvard. It was the first major regatta she has participated in since she competed for the national rowing team in 2000.

To prepare for the race, Muri rowed seven and a half miles a day, five days a week--"more than the average person but less than the elite rowers," she said. The victory was a pleasant surprise. "It was a very strong field, including a lot of my peers who are training for the national team in singles," she said.

Muri, who competed in field hockey, basketball and track as well as crew as an undergraduate, was a member of the national team nine times between 1991-2000, missing only 1996.

Many other MIT rowers enjoyed the near-perfect day on the river.

Members of MIT's 1969 lightweight eight, who competed in the Henley-on-Thames international regatta as undergraduates, rowed in the Charles regatta for the third consecutive year, topping last year's time by 49 seconds. They finished in 17:43.70, good for 29th among the 34 entries in the senior men's eight race and sixth of the nine crews whose members are 50 years old and older.

The crew, several of whom competed in the first Head of the Charles in 1965, reunited for the 1999 regatta. It was so much fun that they made it an annual event.

"We come from England, California, Ohio, Texas, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Boston," said Bruce N. Anderson, who received S.B. degrees in aeronautics and astronautics and in architecture in 1969, and a master's degree in architecture in 1973.

"We train separately, and all differently from each other," said Anderson, the crew's captain, "then practice together Friday and Saturday before the race. We make it a social occasion, too, getting together for a couple of meals and attending the annual MIT crew banquet."

Other MIT participants included:

  • The varsity heavyweight men's four, who finished 13th in 17:11, sixth among the college crews.
  • The lightweight women's eight, which finished eighth in 18:02.
  • The lightweight men's eight, who rowed the course in 15:37, finishing 12th.
  • The heavyweight women, who finished 19th in the club eights race in 18:13.
  • The heavyweight and lightweight men's junior varsities, and men's and women's freshmen eights.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 24, 2001.

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