Why do we do it? Why do so many of us try swimrun, fall in love with it, and tend to never go back to whatever racing we came from?
Well, we believe the answer to be quite simple yet difficult to describe in words, since a big part of the explanation lies within the raw beauty of the swimrun scenery. Listening to the few podcasts, or reading the handful of swimrun-blogs available, adding to this the ever growing number of cover-articles in magazines, there is one thing that the interviewees and reporters constantly comes back to, the undoubted experience of the swimrunner having had really fun while racing. It’s usually not said straight out or explained in-depth, but it’s something that can be identified in between the lines of the persons description of how fun it was, to first swim and then run and then swim and run and….
Sometimes the mere situation in which a swimrunner attempts to depict the (most often emotional) experience they had just lived through, says more than a 1000 words.
So, there you have it, what many people (try to) express, and the essence of swimrun.
It’s not the variety of things you have to do when swimrunning, it’s what you experience while doing it. The many impressions you pick up along the way, the ones that take time to digest and that gets you hooked. It’s the sensation of experiencing something that you already know, but then again, something that you don’t know, which is completely new to you, but really not…
Confused still? It’s ok, we understand :).
You swim in flat and rough open water, narrow shallow passages, with and against the current, with and without seaweed in your face, in big and small waves and with the occasional seal. You run on rock, sand, grass, trail, tarmac, grabble and through the occasional blueberry sprig field, and most of the time, you race point-to-point, never doing the same stretch twice.
Looking back at a swimrun race, it’s difficult to evaluate what you just lived through, since the weather and environment conditions can change from year to year and day to day. The segment between km 12 to 13, that should take you 4:30 to run during a static race, can take you 7 minutes just because the rain made the solid rock as slippery as ice, or that this year a couple of trees had decided that it was time to block the way. Or perhaps the infamous “pig-swim” at ÖtillÖ, which should be an easy 25 minute swim-segment, that can become hell the day you have big waves and a strong undertow.
How do you compare your achievements between these types of races, on the same race course, when looking at the final total time? Well, you don’t, because in the end you really put focus on how much fun you had doing the race, and the individual experience this specific race treated you to, but also, how it was to spend 2 hours in the world’s biggest washing machine.
This way of racing differs greatly from the static triathlon-type of racing we are used to, with an added yet fun touch of team-spritit and self-dependency. You basically provide for yourself during this whole adventure, by running and swimming with all your gear, throughout the whole race. Whatever you start with, you finish with! And if you think it’s a good idea to bring with a floating device the size of a small yoga mat, so be it, enjoy, but don’t forget that you have to run with it, through the terrain all the way to the finish line.
Given this variety, but also the toughness of most swimrun races, for most people, it’s less of a competition and more of an adventure. Many of our international friends, trying swimrun for the first time, have shared this exact experience (and mostly the emotional one). Not being able to put words on what had just happened to them, looking for the correct words but failing, and as always, with this great smile on their faces, you know, the one that tend to never go away.
This is why we don’t want to stop at the regular finish line. Why we want to go on, to go further and experience new places, to continue our adventure while ultraswimrunning.
For the love of the swimrun sport and the adventurer that lives within every one of us.
/The Ultraswimrun Team