It’s been a few weeks since I completed my first ever SwimRun event and I’ve had some time to think and digest it all. Over the last weekend the World Championship of SwimRun better known as Otillo took place. This Race is brutal! It’s a one-day SwimRun race in the archipelago of Stockhom with a total distance is 75 KM of which 10 km are open-water swimming and 65 km are trail-running. The course record was smashed by nearly 16min with the team of two coming across the finish line in just under 8hrs; Truly a remarkable effort, maybe someday I’ll give it a shot if I can find a willing partner!
Coming off of a disappointing finish in Omaha at Triathlon Age Group Nationals, the Garden State Swim Run was a nice change of pace. I had decided to sign up for the Elite race which consisted of two 6.25mile swimrun loops including 4 swim and 4 single track trail runs (a little over 2 mile swim and 10.5miles trail run). I had done some research about whether to use paddle and pool buoy to assist with my floatation since you end up swimming with your shoes on, but decided that I was confident enough to race with neither. 12mile was nothing close to the 75k Otillo and I figured I’d be just fine.
Morning of the race, Tori her Mother and I got there and noticed almost all the racers had both Paddles and Buoys. When I saw this, I thought to myself: ‘Darn, I knew I should have brought them!’ .The race was setup with a one loop option and a two loop option, which I was doing. There ended being about 25people doing the Elite two loop race and 45 doing the single loop amateur race.
The beginning of the race was a mass start. We all quickly ran a half mile and entered the water for the first swim section. I was in third but was shortly passed a couple dozen other athletes with paddles and buoys. At this point early on, I wasn’t worried and really just wanted to focus on enjoying the first experience since the race was out of my control.
After the first 2 swims (combining for 1k), we hit the longer trail sections (2 and 2.5mile). I had previously drilled some drainage holes in my trail shoes to help make the shoes lighter to shed some of the water weight. I decided the run in Saucony Peregrine since I knew they would have an edge on control and traction as well as protect my feet on the technical trails over the lighter density foam shoes. It was in fact true, many new comers to trail running did get pretty banged up on this trail, but I was loving it and not having any issues with the trails.
I passed nearly 10 people and by the second long trail section I was being I told I was in 3rd place for the Elite race. I could definitely feel the heavy weight of my feet every time I exited the water. Kicking with shoes on itself was a workout, so I know I was losing a ton of energy without the help of a buoy between my legs. Every run, I would get closer and at the swim the 2 racers ahead would pull away again. The last run section I pushed hard knowing the race end ended with a short 150m swim, but I stayed in 3rd which was a great surprise when I had had no expectations. Ended up with even split of the course, which I didn’t think I’d do given the leg fatigue towards the beginning of the final access road hill. Finished in 2:21:21, 10min back from first and 4min back from second place both of which were equipped with the needed SwimRun gear.
When it’s all said and done, I walked away with a new great experience that will help me in the next one and a 32Oz growler as a podium prize (this should be all the prizes at all race in my opinoin, great choice by the Garden State SwimRun Staff!). If I am able, I will definitely try this race again next year. It was very well orchestrated in its’ first edition. I hope to see more SwimRun format races pop up in the US in the coming years, especially if I get to enjoy a double IPA with a box of Cheez-It afterwards!