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Race Report: Hanging Rock State Park

This race takes place i  Hanging Rock State Park; Danbury and is an ÖtillÖ merit race, 15.5 miles running and 3000 m swimming. About two months ago  Lisen contacted Åsa and asked is she was interested to be her team mate in Swimrun NC, North Carolina, USA . Before the race we did not know each other and we have not had time f for more than one training session together.  And we turned out to be the perfect match!

We landed in Charlotte N.C. on Friday evening and were picked up at the airport by Lisen’s good friend, Gisela. After a good night’s sleep, we was ok with time difference and jet lag. Gisela, who was our driver, photographer and supporter all the time, drove us up to Hanging Rock and we picked out our bibs  before pre-race meeting and checked the first bit of the track before race briefing.

When we got our race packages we also got personal  really cute notes written by children in local schools. very much appreciated.

We met both new and old friends and just enjoyed the “Swimrun atmosphere”.

When we were ready we drove to Heather Whitaker Maloy’s home where she so generously let us stay in her very luxurious pool house. We made ourselves at home, checked the equipment for the race and then went early to bed.

Saturday, Race day!

The alarm rang at 05.30.  For breakfast, porridge, out of specially imported oats from Sweden.

When we where ready Gisela drove us up to the race area where the start was at 08.00 and 15.5 miles (25.5 km) running and 3000 m swimming was waiting for us!

Team Swedish sirens are ready to go!

5 weeks ago Lisen njured her hamstring, we were a bit worried about the running parts in this competition. we have heard that it is tough with very much uphill running and very technical running downhills. As a Rockman, Race Director, Herbert Krabel did express it….

Now there is no turning back, we are in the start field, waiting for the countdown and the start shot!

It’s 8:00am and we are away! Åsa is eager and wants us to go on to be in a good position when it narrows in the forest path and not to miss the cut-offs. Soon, however, we are in the forest and the path , soft, meandering, full of leaves in cheerful autumn colors and a  sparse forest around.

The fastest teams are already out of sight, but it feels as if we have ended up first in the next bunch. The trail is leading us steady uphills. We have some teams that are hooked on just behind us, but they don’t seem interested to overtake us.

After about 7 k uphills, and after climbing up the waterfall, Window Fall, we came to Hanging Rock Lake and the energy station. We drank a little and then went into the water to start the first of four 500 meters swimming. The water was quite cold, about 13 degrees, but it felt ok after the sweaty run.

Åsa first on the swims, Lisen after, trying to keep the track we’re fast and don’t think any team overtook us during the swims.

The first swim completed and a short run, only about 350 m, before we will be in the water again, only 25 meters splashing and up again for another short 350 meters run, but this time down a gooey steep and over the river. Up on the other side and towards the next 500 meter swim. We weren’t aware of what was going to happen and the volunteers sent us out for the next long run. Suddenly we had a volunteer screaming behind us, saying that we had to turn around! We should do another swim in the lake, the second loop of 500 m swim and the other short runs. We turned around, very annoyed both of us, to make the next loop, like the one we just made!

After that we were sent in the right direction and we started another climb of 3.4 k. Both of us were very cold. We tried to run the best we could on feet without feeling and my left leg that hurt every step, to get warm again. We forced 642 “steps” up to the highest point of the track, Moore’s Wall and once there, we were stunned, not because of the effort but because of an absolutely fantastic view and the realization that we actually took us all the way up to the top and still felt strong and with a lot of strength left. We took a few minutes at the top, drank some water and got photographed. Unfortunately, the photographer did not get the wonderful view, but we look happy anyway.

Now a tricky run down to Hanging Rock Lake again. 3.5 km VERY technical trail! This was the  to the part of the race where Lisen were most comfortable and strong! She went first with Åsa behind and behind us, we had some men’s teams that seemed to think our speed was good. We even manage to overtake some teams! It was the kind of trail when you have to let eyes and brain work together in front of you and your feet shall just easily jump between stones and roots and move forward with lightness under you!

We all came down safe and now we had two more loops equal to those before, with two 500 meter swims and a little “scrap” in between. We weren’t thinking so much, only kept on running. The cold water was unfortunately not good for a damaged hamstring and it became harder and harder  for Lisen to run the short distances between in and out of water. The positive thing was that we felt fresh and strong and that we had fun and could chat with each other and that we didn’t regret for a second what we did!

We finished the last loop and had the last 9.2 k of running down to Dan River and the last 900 meters swim in Dan River, with strong currency, to the finish line! This year they added an extra leg to the race, which took us to the Cascade Falls, which consisted of climbing up a rock face and going under the waterfall! Super nice, beautiful and exactly the type of climbing that I like! There was a rope out there to help the participants but I was quicker going at the side and didn’t use it. Once again, we where stunned at the beauty and we stopped and just looked around to soak it all in.

Ok, now the last few kilometers downhill….. Luckily, it’s going downhill because now Lisen was in bad pain. Åsa and took the lead and Lisen was limping after. As soon as it became just a little uphills we walked. We were on the same nice trail that we started on a few hours earlier and we enjoyed, the beauty and also knowledge that we did  put kilometer after kilometer behind us. We still did surprisingly good and  we could barely understand that we were at the last, easy 900 meters of swimming when we went into the water.

It was so shallow that we could barely swim! On the other hand, we hardly needed to swim, more try to keep the right direction, because the current took us quickly the 900 meters down towards the finish line. It only took ten minutes, even though we had to stop several times when we got grounded because of the shallow water.Faster than we expected, we reached the stairs that took us the last 50 meters to the finish line where Gisela waited with “Jeanmaire”, champagne that Åsa brought from Sweden.

After the race we were hanging around with other participants. They served lunch and there was a awards ceremony. There were five Swedes who competed. Åsa and me in the women’s category, Patrik Rung and Therese Näslund, who finished at a honorable third place in mix category and Per Karlsson in the men’s category competing with an american guy, Eric Lashway.

Over all, SwimRun NC has been an absolutely fantastic experience. Great organization by Herbert Krabel and his team.

We were so happy and grateful that we were able to finish the race, and extra happy that we turned out to be such a fantastic team! That we had the absolutely best support and  help from Gisela Bickimer and also was able to spend some days with her in Shelby, outside Charlotte, makes it even better!

We have met a lot of nice people and found new friends as always within the Swimrunworld, Blake and Kawika hope to meet you in Sweden next year!

If someone still hasn’t been interested enough to come with us next year, you may contact us for more inspiration. Otherwise, just go for it! Book early and everything will be cheaper!

Thanks for reading!

All the Best!

Lisen Tesch and Åsa Lindé

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