Fun as *uck
To be fair it was pretty awesome…
On Sunday 9th September I took part in my first “Swimrun” event. A multi-part endurance event with many swimming and running sections. I completed the race with my great friend Patrick Mawhood… As the race director said you start as team mates and finish as brothers. Cheesy I know but to be fair it was quite an emotional and binding experience and there were a few challenges
Swimrun is a newish (maybe 10 year old) sport out of Sweden and I have to say it is probably the coolest endurance sport out there. My race was based in Switzerland in the stunningly beautiful Engadin Valley.
The sport actually came about following a bet made by a couple of jaunty Swedish fellas about whether they could swim then run then swim then run then swim…across a bunch of Swedish islands in a vast archipelago.
The company who organised my race and most of the top Swimrun events is called Ötillö which means island to island in Swedish. They also organise the (qualification only) world championships final race of the same name in Stockholm.
My event incorporated 8 run sections and 7 swims. With appropriately 40km of running and 6km of swimming it is isn’t for the faint hearted.
What really captured my imagination though about the crazy sport and this event was the environment where the race was held. Not only is this Swiss race very beautiful but the clever people at Ötillö have chosen 7 staggeringly beautiful venues for their races across Germany, U.K., Sweden and Croatia.
Dig a little deeper and you discover a bunch of other surprising things about the sport…
- You wear a special wetsuit throughout
- You swim in your shoes amd you are allowed to use paddles
- You must race in a team of two and stay together throughout
- Many people tether themselves to their teammates for the swims and some for the runs too.
- The run sections are often technical terrain and some courses have significant climbing(as ours did 1600m)
- The swims are cold and in vary in length from 200m to 3000m for the individual sections
- Engadin has 14 transitions between sports and is 46km
- The world championships has 54 transitions and is 75km!!!
The winners finished 5 hours 16 minutes….way faster than our lousy 8 hours 1 minute….and bearing in mind that I managed to finish a 100 mile running race last year and my team mate Pat has finished a very serious European mountain ultra called the UTMB and we only managed to place about 75 of 115 finishers….It was a competitive field but to be fair our swimming let us down and many of the participants had a bit of a swimming background….there were some serious athletes out there.
I was nervous up to the race having not trained a great deal and carrying a bit of holiday weight. I had only just got over a cold which seemed to want to linger forever.
We discussed tactics the day before and agreed our only real goal was to finish the thing! With this principle in mind and the mantra “complete complete complete” we paced very cautiously for the first half, finishing strong we overtook 4 or 5 male teams in the last hour.
We might have gone a bit quicker but you just never know if you will pop, it was a bit of an unknown quantity too with all the climbing and neither of us had ever swam that far.
I have to say I am hooked and I know Pat would be up for another one. The question is Üto in Sweden, or Hvar in Croatia or even the Scilly isles course?
Maybe Croatia would be cool but I think Pat is scared of the 2.7km wavy sea swim…ooops did I put that in writing -sorry mate wouldn’t want to drop the gauntlet 😉
If you like videos take a look at the official event video from this year which is beautifully filmed and really captures the event: