Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Racereport 2015-12: Breca SwimRun

I wrote the following text for slowtwitch. Go and check out all pics and stuff HERE!

It was symbolic. After a mere 38 undulating kilometres of technical and steep running, with a vertical ascent of 1,900 meters, the final 100 meters to the finish line were uphill as well. As the day was a fusion of running and 6 kilometers of swimming there was liquid waiting for every team that reached the village of Buttermere. Ice-cold cans of beer brought sleepy smiles on each finishers face. It was a lengthy day out in the clear waters and the sharp western fells of England’s most impressive scenery – the Lake District. To plant the SwimRun seed in the UK, no better place could have been chosen. The inaugural Breca SwimRun produced an authentic course and SwimRun racing that was never seen before. A pretty special skill set was required to be effective on these difficult 44 kilometers.

© Paul Mitchell of wildmanmitchell.com
“The course should be well marked. Some farmers might have taken down some of the flags but we should be OK. Read your map cautiously”, indicated race director Ben at the briefing an hour before the competition. Except for one section along the top of the infamous Honister Pass - where the sheep had taken to eating the red markings, it was very well marked. A mix of single trails and pure off-road running was on the agenda. Very little road running made sure that all teams had to be on top of their off-road running game. In a part of England where the sport of fell running is highly popular, the course demanded fearless running and the ability to handle the steepest up and downhill terrain. However a good slice of running was on striking and stony single footpaths, certain shares of the course tested the SwimRunners on off-trail running combined with river crossings and the search for yet another red flag that guided the teams of two to the next swim section. Throughout 17 successive legs past icy and crystal-clear waters the path was a humbling encounter with no easy part of the course.

© Paul Mitchell of wildmanmitchell.com
“This was a rough day out. Probably the best set of trails I have run in the UK, though!” said Hamish Cropper of the men’s winning Squad ‘Clapham Bruderwunderz’ was full of thrill after his finish with partner Alan Scott. The London based duo came 6th at last year’s ÖtillÖ SwimRun World champs and took the maiden win in the first race of this young sport in the UK. “We are both qualified for Kona in a few weeks. It was a very good day of training for the two of us. A good bit of time spent on the feet and a great day of strength work for our running and swimming form. A very hard but enjoyable day, though.” commented Alan while re-hydrating with some lager beside him shortly after the finish. A few minutes later German crew “The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB” finalised the podium with its two teams taking 2nd and 3rd. In the women category it was team "Girls Wot Can" who won with an impressive time of 7:26.

© Paul Mitchell of wildmanmitchell.com
The unique vibe and the comradeship of SwimRun was apparent as racers were gathering at the finish line cheering each other on and sharing stories about what had happened out there. Not only the local sheep were astounded by people running with wetsuits through their home territory, also a course with these characteristics raised a lot of eyebrows among the competitors and took a new dimension to the sport of SwimRun. More competitors are more then welcome to test themselves along the ridges and fells of this beautiful part of the world next year.

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