Swimrun takes the UK by storm

Inspired by Swedish ÖTILLÖ races, the fast-growing sport Swimrun is sweeping the globe and the UK is in on the action. After marshalling at the inaugural Breca Buttermere, our Online Ed Rhalou reports back.

Originally posted on Runner’s World


Swimrun is about to take the UK by storm and following the success of its inaugural race, adventure-seekers will be pleased to hear that Breca Swimrun is returning to the Lake District in 2016.

Inspired by the Swedish ÖTILLÖ race, which means Island-to-Island, participants run and swim over consecutive legs in pairs (you have to be within 50m of each other the whole time), so the experience is shared and teamwork plays an integral role in success. Together participants must navigate rocky trails, choppy waters and extreme temperatures and all in a wetsuit and trainers.

One of the fastest-growing endurance sports in the world, even Pippa Middleton is in on the action. To celebrate her 32nd birthday, the royal sister-in-law participated in the ÖTILLÖ 2015 Swimrun Championships in Sweden on Monday. She told Reuters that she was ‘taken by the idea of competing in the stunning surroundings’ and that it was an ‘unusual and unique event’.

Breca Buttermere promises to be no less unique, as it takes place in one of the UK’s most stunning and rugged areas of natural beauty – the Western Fells of the Lake District. Over 17 consecutive legs, teams of two complete a total of 6K of lake swimming and 38K of trail running, including 1,900m of vertical ascent over the infamous Honister Pass.

Having marshalled at the inaugural event, I can confirm that this incredible new sport is one to watch out for. The Buttermere landscape is utterly sublime and the brutal fells provided a particularly unique challenge for the swim-runners.

Aside from the beautiful course, the aspect of the race that really appealed to me was the idea of alternating different muscle groups, essentially switching from legs in the running section to arms in the swim (small floats are allowed to ease to reduce the impact on the legs) over constantly changing terrain. By the end of the event the participants were beaming but walking like drunken sailors! Participating in pairs also added a race camaraderie which I’ve never seen in an event before. The teams were really supporting each other and urging their partners on; it was magical to watch.

‘Sharing the pain, suffering and elation with a teammate is what makes Swimrun so special,’ says Breca Race Director Ben de Rivaz. ‘It is not all about the individual, it is about working together with a friend and with the other teams on the course. This creates a unique atmosphere at these events.’

‘Breca Buttermere 2016 is going to be a bigger event with a few new surprises!’ added Ben.

Registration for the 2016 event is now open. Entries are limited to 50 teams of two. Click here for details.

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