The sport of swim then run then swim then run (SwimRun) again has started to snowball over the last few years. If you are into multisport, no doubts you will have heard of THE OTILLO. This is where the sport was essentially born, sort of like the “KONA” of SwimRun Events. There may have been others scattered around the globe that came before or at the same time but the OTILLO is considered by many to be the king when it comes to these type of events.
Aquathlon is a sport well known to most triathletes but the SwimRun event takes on a combination of open water swimming and trail running over various distances as well as technical terrain. The sport is essentially a 2 person team sport that races over a designated course of swimming then running, using a variety of different tools that are all considered legal. Fins, Pull-buoys, Swim-Run specific wetsuits, Hand-paddles and more are all common “tools of the trade” when it comes to this sport. Those that consider themselves to be weaker swimmers must be chomping at the bit knowing that the use of a wetsuit, fins and pull-buoys all at the same time is legal in this sport. That may sound fantastic at first sight but there is certainly an element of challenge attached to these events.
Swimming with running shoes on for example is no easy task – some events do not allow fins and the race rules may require you to swim with them on – normal every day run shoes tend to get heavy when wet and can be a huge drag on your swim proficiency. The more experienced teams that are looking for podium places take all of this into consideration when planning their assault on the race course and what sort of equipment to use for the various SwimRun “sectors”.
If you thought transitions during a triathlon were crucial, in this sport the winners are often determined by the transitions from swim to run and back to swim. Apart from the equipment you may need at some of these events, there may also be some safety gear that is required to be dragged along as well.
The swims all take place in the open water, be it lakes, rivers or sea whilst the run sectors are mainly trail that hover between easy and very technical terrain.
Some events are short distance based in nature while others borderline on being considered ultra-distance.
What sort of equipment is normally needed for such events?
- This is not just your normal triathlon wetsuit. These are designed specially to be able to swim and run in. They also have pockets designed to carry certain items which you may need on-course.
- Pull buoys – This will give the athlete a little bit of extra lift during the swim sectors but are restricted in terms of their size at some events
- Fins -Some events allow the use of swim fins for the swim bits, it’s worth checking prior to purchasing.
- Run-Trail Shoes – These will vary from your common every day normal run shoes right down to a more technical lighter weight trail shoe which is determined by what sort of surface you will be running over
- Safety Equipment – This may include a First-Aid kit and whistles etc. It all depends on the duration of the event and the technicality involved.
What are the rules?
- Each event will have a specific set of rules unique to their event only and there is no one standard set of rules in this newly emerged race.
- This is where the study of the pre-rules races becomes an essential part of your planning before you have even entered the race.
Can I compete in these events?
- You have to be a relatively competent open water swimmer. Some events will have some easy swim sectors that most could traverse but there is an element of danger involved so be sure to be swim fit and open water confident before you sign up for one of these.
- Most will involve trail and some technical sections on the run sections. Make sure you have some off-road running pedigree before taking the plunge and entering. Always better to be well prepared than going in blind not knowing what to expect.
- These events are growing in popularity the world over and are certainly something which you can target as a fresh new challenge.
SOME OF THE BEST SWIM-RUN EVENTS THAT YOU CAN COMPETE IN
- The OTILLO SWIM RUN SERIES
- Since 2006
- A 7 race series that culminates in the OTILLO World SwimRun Championships
- Total Distance – just under 75km with around 65km of running and 10km of swimming
- This is rated as one of the toughest events in the world
- This is the GRAND DADDY of them all when it comes to swim-run events
- BRECA SWIM-RUN
- A choice of 5 races spanning the UK and NEW ZEALAND
- The BRECA BUTTERMERE held in the Lake District England is one of the UK’s most well-known events and the pinnacle of this swim-run series
- You will run 38km and swim 6km with a total ascent of almost 2000m which will give this event a big “bite” indeed
- Not an easy event to compete in but a home-grown swim-run challenge that should be considered a bucket-list item for all of you reading this editorial
- SWIM-RUN AUSTRALIA
- Located and hosted in Sydney
- Australia’s first ever swim-run event
- The Official Australian Swim-Run Championships
- A combination of surf swimming and trail-asphalt running
- Held in the summer so wetsuits at this one are not required
- SWIM RUN USA –CASCOBAY ISLANDS
– Hosted in Portland
– One of 3 events under the Swim-Run USA umbrella body
– A choice of long course and short course options
– One of the USA’s most well-known swim-run events – SOLD OUT in most cases long before race-day
– Register early for this one