Elizabeth Gilmore discovered indoor rowing as a low impact cross-training option to compliment her running. After a 2021 tibia fracture put a stop to her running season, she started to spend more time on the erg. Recently, she competed in the inaugural World Rowing Versa Challenge at the 2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships in Mississauga, Toronto, Canada, where she took home the gold medal. She is our March 2023 Rower of the Month.

How has your 2023 season been so far?

It’s been better than I could have imagined going into it. Some of my highlights of the rowing season include completing a century, setting a marathon world record, and being able to compete in person at some pretty great events: ErgSprints, WRICH, and CRASH-Bs.

You had a great 2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships – winning the inaugural World Rowing Versa Challenge. Was it something you thought you could do going into the event?

I’m still shocked that I won. Knowing how strong the rest of the field was, my hope going into the weekend was simply to medal.

What would you like to see done with the Versa in the future?

It would be really fun to see events testing a range of paces, like both a 100m and a 10k, as well as events that require a lot of strategy and self-control. The Elimination Challenge had that element, and it would have been fun to see how it played out.

The biggest opportunities seem to be around the spectator experience. I was lucky to be in the first Target heat, which meant that I got to watch the remaining heats from the stands, and having a time remaining countdown on the big screen would have been helpful.

How did you first get into rowing?

My background is in running, and I bought a Concept2 RowErg so that I could have a low-impact option for cross-training. I was training for a Fall 2021 half marathon when I fractured my tibia. At first, I spent a lot of time on the bike trainer, and then when the doctor cleared me, I split my training between that and the RowErg. When I saw that Concept2 had a Holiday Challenge, I signed up for a Logbook account, aimed for the 100k milestone, and hit 288,627m between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Mississauga, Toronto, Canada

When you aren’t rowing, what does your life look like?

It’s busy! I lead a healthcare data science team. My husband and I are raising our four boys, and our family is frequently hiking with their scout packs or going on backpacking trips. I also love to cook, which works great because the boys love to eat.

What are your upcoming goals in rowing?

I’m trying out for a master’s sweep team later this month. Beyond that, I’m torn between focusing on getting faster at shorter distances (2k and under), or trying to break some more records in the very long endurance realm. I’m taking a moment right now to enjoy the end of the season before trying to settle on what’s next.

If you could give one piece of advice to a rower starting out what would it be?

Enjoy it. If you find joy in what you’re doing, it’s easy to keep showing up and it doesn’t really feel like work, even when it gets hard.

For me, this means lots of Netflix and audiobooks during UT2, it means putting on my favorite music for harder sessions, it means lots of time outside, and it means occasional cross-training to keep mentally fresh. It may mean something entirely different for you.

What is the most memorable piece of advice that has been said to you?

From a training perspective, to keep easy days easy and hard days hard. It’s tempting to want to go out hard every day, but there’s value in the lower intensity work, and it helps to recover enough to really bring it hard for the more intense sessions.

From more of a mindset perspective, I like to go out conservatively and kick hard at the end, and it’s negativity affected my placement in the Versa qualifications and RowD Royalty. A couple of friends told me that I hold myself back, and need to be confident in my training and even more in my grit. I’ve started going out harder and it hurts, but I’ve been able to claw through.

Do you have a mentor or athlete that you admire?

A lot. It’s so hard to choose. Olena Buryak is amazing, and I was starstruck when she liked one of my Instagram posts. Fellow Versa competitors Anna Muehle and Charlotte Dixon are both fantastic rowers and even better people; I’m so glad to have met them. My coach Cam Buchan is relentlessly positive and encouraging, and has helped me to get into great shape. On more of the mentoring side of things, not only are my friends Cameron Wharram and Andy Tomlinson both phenomenal athletes, but they lift me up, provide constructive feedback, and help me to celebrate my strengths.