About Connor’s Erg

A show of strength for brain cancer.

Connor was determined to study and row, until brain cancer robbed him of the chance. Connor applied to Wisconsin and Stanford Universities and was invited to attend Stanford summer school the day before his brain tumour surgery. 

During Connor’s treatment, Craig Amerkhanian, coach of Stanford rowing, kept in touch with Connor’s mum Liz, offering support during a tough time for the Dawes family. For 16 months Connor’s brilliant mind and strong body gave its all to fight this terrible disease, but on April 20, 2013 Connor lost his battle. A matter of days later, the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation was born. Since then the Dawes family have been on a mission to ensure no family has to endure what theirs did. 

When Liz next spoke to Craig, he was determined to support the family and their foundation. When brainstorming fundraising ideas, they discovered Craig was good friends with Chris Clarke, coach of rowing at Wisconsin. Which just so happens to be Connor’s parent’s, Liz and Scott’s, alma mater.

And so, Connor’s Erg Challenge was born. 2022 marks the seventh year of the competition, with more than $220,000 already raised for pediatric brain cancer research.

“Support from events like Connor’s Erg helps to spur innovative research, because that kind of flexible funding provides brain tumor scientists with the ability to test new hypotheses and go in new scientific directions.”

– Michelle Monje Deisseroth, MD, PhDAssociate Professor of Neurology, and by courtesy, Neurosurgery, Pathology and Pediatrics, Stanford University

How does the challenge work?

Connor’s Erg is an erg race to 100km and can be done in several formats, whatever works for you.

Usually it’s done in a relay format with each member rowing 1km.

Some guidelines:

Men:  Can have up to 5 ergs (each erg pulling 20km, with up to 5-6 rowers)

Women: Can have up to 6 ergs (each erg puling 16.7km, with up to 5-6 rowers)

We understand the world is a different place and not every school or team will be able to row together. So in 2022, we ask you to Row Your Way Any Day in February. Think of creative and fun ways to show the world that brains matter!


Men: 5:03:12

Women: 5:52.45

Lightweight Women: 6:13.12


100km Erg Challenge - MEN

Marist- 4:54:57- Winner, 2020 Connor’s Cup

Wisconsin- 5:00:42

Syracuse- 5:06:26.5

Colgate- 5:29:35.8 

100km Erg Challenge - WOMEN

Princeton Openweight- 5:52:25.6 Winner, 2020 Connor’s Cup

Wisconsin Openweight- 6:00:45

Colgate- 6:21:54 

100km Erg Challenge - LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN 

Princeton Lightweight-6:30:55- Winner, 2020 Connor’s Cup

Wisconsin Lightweight- Finished but unfortunate timing issues prevented accurate calculation

Other Challenges 

MIT (combined women and men)- 7 athletes did 60km on the erg + 140km on the bikes for a total of 130km 

Duke women - each athlete completed 100km on the erg over 10 days

UVA - combined women and men “cardio party” 


Highest team total: Wisconsin: $10,891.00 

Highest per capita results: Colgate Women $4,526.00