What the hell is SwimRun and why is it becoming so popular?
Swimrun originated in Sweden just over 10 years ago with the original race being the ÖtillÖ (island to island). As a sport, Swimrun has been growing rapidly both in Sweden, Europe and now the US as people embrace an endurance event with a difference.
Swimrun involves teams of two racing together from point to point, with no changing of clothes during transitions between running and swimming disciplines. Team members swim in their shoes and run in their wetsuits. Participants are expected to carry everything they need for the race along with them. For many it is the perfect mix of physical challenge and adventure, with the opportunity to race alongside a friend or partner, and the feelings of camaraderie associated with that, making the Swimrun event style unique.
It is getting bigger and the endurance racing industry is taking notice Sure it is a hybrid style race format, but tickets to Swimrun events are selling like hot property, and there is a new amphibious Swimrun shoe or Swimrun-specific piece of gear hitting the market every 6 months. The reality is people want something outside of the norm and are demanding 'experience' style races vs a flat track/set distance.
“Triathlon may be the one of fastest growing sports in the world, but for many it is the antithesis of adventure: flashy gear, $8,000 bikes and repetitive routes. Step forward swimrun, a new sporting event that ditches the tri-bars and asphalt roads in favour of a bit of off-road and open-water adventure.” – The Guardian, November 2015 The exponential growth in Swimrun events reflects the rapidly increasing demand (see below since inception):
Why is it growing so fast? A change from the norm
Unlike a lot of endurance sports it is actually less repetitive and the course is determined by the natural surroundings (point to point). A bit like trail running, your time for a specific distance is somewhat irrelevant compared to pounding the pavement glued to your garmin, it's more about getting around the course and experiencing nature at the same time. Back in 2014, Outside Magazine published an interesting article about the difference between SwimRun and other endurance events such as triathlon, that is still very relevant today.
It is about partnership and sharing the experience
What do they say, "a team is only as fast as its slowest member", "it is not the destination, it's the journey". We could keep going. But that is Swimrun, it's about completing a serious endurance challenge alongside your chosen partner. With running and swimming it is hard to find someone who is exactly matched with you, so you work together and feed off each others strengths and weaknesses. Ask any swim-runner, it is all about your partnership, from training right through to race day. Dan, one of our co-directors, recently did a swimrun in Sweden and gave some fantastic insight into his experience, have a look here about what he has to say about choosing the right partner.
You don’t have to take yourself so seriously
The whole concept of Swimrun started with a drunken bet and it wasn't that long ago. The founders of ÖtillÖ have worked hard to create an ethos that is about fun, supporting each other and friendship. If you are looking at getting into Swimrun just remember it is all about the natural environment, having fun on race day and supporting your partner as well as the other people participating in the race. Swimrun events are placed in unique, beautiful locations, which is why people keep coming back. They aren’t about mass participation (thousands of competitors), they are small-community feel events. Swimruns are niche, tough endurance challenges in which the goal is to finish strong, not shave 5 seconds per km off your run time (that will go pear shaped very quickly for you in the kind of terrain we’re talking about).
Where should I go to learn more?
What do they say, learn from the best? ÖtillÖ are the originators and kings of SwimRun, their online magazine has plenty of great content. We would recommend getting over to World of Swimrun, they have plenty of informative articles as well as a global race calendar.
We also loved listening to Rich Roll’s Podcast about his humbling experience of
Swimrun the ÖtilliÖ.
Why do one?
Ever wanted to be at the forefront of a growing sport? Ever wanted to be wet then run for ages with sand in your shoes and get some mega chafe? All of these are, right now, somewhat achievable, get off the couch and have a crack at a Swimrun. Situated in Australia? Check out our event - Rottnest Swimrun Date: Saturday March 10th, 2018 (tickets on sale Oct 19th, 5 pm WST) Number of teams: 100 General admission: 90 teams Charity (of your choice): 4 teams Race Director's choice: 4 teams Sponsors: 2 teams