Having a relatively long history of triathlons, aqua-bikes, Ironman, and a Channel swim to date, swimrun seemed the obvious evolution and was something I was keen to get stuck in to. However, whilst on paper the distances looked very achievable (38km of running and 5km swimming in total over 16 legs), I admit on the day it was more demanding than I’d anticipated. My swimrun partner, Andy, has a similar background to me with triathlon and county level swimming under his belt, and had the additional experience of having completed the Breca sprint swimrun in 2018. Our reckoning of “go big or go home” when deciding to take on the full length swimrun this year may, however, have been slightly bolder than we realised at the time…
My training for Breca Gower started at the beginning of the year with cross country runs added to my regular running schedule, along with pool swimming and then lake swimming at Chipstead Lake ran by Tri Swim. The lake sessions included running laps around the lake once it opened in early May. Fitting Swimrun training in around a young family was totally achievable with an early morning start, and it was great to take on a new sport where I didn’t need to buy a lot of new kit – most things I already owned and, apart from a Swimrun wetsuit, there were no tremendously expensive outlays. It also felt good to be training and then competing as part of a team, with my training taking on greater importance as I didn’t want to let my Swimrun partner down.
Breca hold a Sprint (20km) and a full distance Swimrun over a July weekend at the very beautiful Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The route takes in some absolutely astounding scenery along with some of the most stunning beaches the UK has to offer. This, along with the amazing weather meant that it was a really family friendly event, with my wife, children and dog enjoying beach-hopping along some of the fuel stations to support us en route from Rhossili to Port Eynon (great rockpools!), on to Oxwich Bay, Caswell Bay and finally the finish line at Mumbles.
The course included a little rock climbing, much fell running, swimming with seals, a lot of beach running and some decent hill climbs. I admit it was tough, and with the 25-degree full sunshine and wetsuit combination also causing overheating there were points at which each of us had to dig deep to keep going. At these times you really recognise the benefits of working as a team, and also having a partner who in those dark moments (and there were quite a few) will be the rock you need to persevere and not someone who will tell you to man the f*** up!
Along with planning a stunning course route at Gower, Breca deserve recognition for their dedication to making the event environmentally low impact, including competitors required to take their own reusable cup with them through the course and food stations having ready prepared, cut up food, rather than individually sealed snacks. That being said, my reusable cup unfortunately disappeared early in the event, but it turns out swimming hats work well as drinking vessels too, who knew?
We were happy/relieved to cross the finish line in 9th place in just over 6 ½ hrs. My first comment to my partner and the organiser was, never again, but…… Breca, Bay of Islands in NZ looks amazing.
Find out more about Breca Swimrun events here…