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Rowers impressed with Oklahoma City but could skip the heat

BY ED GODFREY Outdoors Editor Published: August 15, 2011

“I have been rowing close to 20 years, and I would venture to say that this is one of the best venues I have been to,” Killpack said.

Her teammate, Mag Donaldson, said rowing venues are usually rower-friendly or spectator-friendly. The Oklahoma River was both, she said.

“It's a fabulous venue for us rowers, but you can also see the whole course, which is really unusual,” Donaldson said.

Members of the Baltimore Rowing Club said it was hot and windy but also gave the Boathouse District high marks.

“This is a brilliant venue,” said Emily Erbelding of the Baltimore crew. “The layout of the docks and boats is thoughtful. It was built to have a very large volume of boats going quickly. All the loading, launching and recovery has been very, very easy, and that's not always the case.”

For most rowers in the event, it was their first time to visit Oklahoma City. The Marin squad visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, bought cowboy boots and hats in Stockyards City and attended a RedHawks game Saturday night.

“We tried to cram in as much as we could,” Martens said. “I have to say the people in Oklahoma City are truly the nicest people I have ever met.”

Paula Merkle of the Baltimore Rowing Club likened the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River to a “Field of Dreams” approach for rowers. If you build it, they will come.

“It's working,” she said.

Johnson said he hasn't spoken to any of the participants who said they wouldn't come back to Oklahoma City for another regatta. Martens and the rest of the Marin crew said they would return.“We would come back, but maybe in a different month,” she said.

See all Heats and Results from the weekend Alternate Crop blog: Rowing on the River