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When the London marathon kicks off on April 17, thousands of spectators will watch some 40,000 entrants toil along the grueling course. At the same time, in gyms around Britain, other determined athletes will be seated on a Concept2 indoor rowing machine to row the marathon distance of 26 miles while they watch the runners pound the pavement on TV. The machine allows an oarsman to tackle the endurance challenge of a marathon, rowing a distance that's not practical on the water. Used for training by many of the medal-winning crews at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the affordable and robust...

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