Show Us How Its Done: The Grande Rouge

I’ve been thinking about my biggest concerns about Breca SwimRun.
At the moment, its wetsuit choice (and affordability!) and getting in some specific training sessions. Some others I’ve spoken to are worried about which shoes to choose? Paddles or no-paddles? And I’d imagine there are people reading this who want to enter who don’t even have a partner yet!
So I thought this would be a good time to hear from a team who have been through all this, who probably had the same concerns in the build up as we will. Hopefully it will reassure us that we’re on the right track so far, or give us things to think about that we hadn’t before, maybe give us a chance to learn from their mistakes.
Their experience might even help to persuade others to enter their own team.
So whilst “The Grande Rouge” won’t be at Breca next year, this interview should help us all with our own preparations….

Team Name: The Grande Rouge
Team Members: Richard Frickleton & Erin Beveridge

The Grande Rouge - Richard & Erin
The Grande Rouge – Richard & Erin

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other? 
We are Boyfriend & Girlfriend and live in Edinburgh – We met through the triathlon club we are both members of. (you can read more about Richards adventures over at his blog)

What do you do when you’re not jumping into lakes with your shoes on or running round in wetsuits? 
Over the past couple of years we have both been trying to get to grips with triathlon! So you’ll usually find us swim/bike/running about Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. As we come into winter we abandon the roads for the hills and do lots of mountain biking & cross country.

What had you done in the past?
RF
– I was a xc-mountain biker for a long time but ended up getting roped into doing a few adventure races. Loads of these guys were triathletes and they planted the seed for getting involved in triathlon and since then I’ve been hooked.  I’ve only done a handful of short course races each year mostly because of injury & work but I love splitting my time across all the disciplines, I say I love it what I mean is I tolerate the swimming but love the rest.
EB – I was a sprint hurdler at school but unfortunately my legs didn’t grow as quickly as the height of the hurdles did (plus I was competing against Eilidh Child). Played hockey while at university in Glasgow gaining a coaching qualification before leaving to work in France & New Zealand. Once I was back I was talked into cycling 1000 miles round Scotland for charity, some of the guys doing it were triathletes and since then I have done a handful of short course races each year before I decided it would be a good idea to try and swim 8k in a SwimRun race.

Which SwimRun race did you take part in?
Loch Lomond Inch by Inch – its a good one for spectators!

And how did you get on? What can you tell us about your experience?
We finished 10th out of the 40 teams and 2nd mixed pair so its safe to say our first experience of swim run was very good. Because this is still a relatively new format a lot of the other competitors were also doing it for the first time so the atmosphere pre-race was different, there is a lot more chat mostly about how you have been training for it and how you made your kit. (ahh, we’ll get onto that in a minute)

How competitive was it?
It appeared to attract 2 particular types of people, none of which we fitted into. #1: Good/confident swimmers (obviously) & #2: Multiple Ironman finishers.  We did find however that fitting into either of these categories didn’t guarantee success because none of these involve swimming and running multiple times in one day while wearing a wetsuit and carrying all your gear. We were amazed that people we had talked to the days/weeks/months before who were looking forward to an event which focused on their strengths (swimmers), finished after we did. A lot of them underestimated how much the running would affect their swimming and how much the wetsuit would affect their running and generally how preparation for a triathlon is different for preparing for a swim run.

How does the saying go, “fail to prepare…?”
We also found that no matter what race strategy people had decided on, in the heat of competition you’ll always do what’s quickest. For example quite a few people had decided to take their shoes off for the swims but that quickly changed when they were sitting trying to get their shoes off & on while others just ploughed in and out of the water without stopping. I guess what I am getting at is that because this is still a new concept in the UK it is possible to do well even if you are not the fittest or fastest (it helps) but as long as you have put some thought into your preparation you can do quite well.

Why Swimrun? Why not a normal race/triathlon?
It all came about because Richard was looking to raise money for charity and thought this would be ideal. We needed something different, something which wasn’t a hobby and something people could clearly see was out of our comfort zone – Had it not been for that I don’t know if I would have ever attempted to try this, never mind wanting to do it again!

Talking of which, are you going to put yourselves through it all again? 
We do want to do it again but next year it all depends on having enough time & holidays to do it. Annoyingly all my friends are getting married and the stag doos & weddings at the same time as a lot of the events. If we are going to do one it will be the Snowdonia swim run event in August.

Team Dynamics: What do you each bring to the team? 
In the build up Richard dealt with the coaching, planning all the swim sets and swim run sessions and Erin did a lot of the research into kit (I.e cut up an old wetsuit or buy a specific sim/run wetsuit). On race day we were all about trying to enjoy ourselves & making sure we both made it to the end in one piece.

"In one piece" - 2nd mixed pair! Loch Lomond Inch By Inch
“In one piece” – 2nd mixed pair! Loch Lomond Inch By Inch

Did teamwork make the dreamwork? Or had you fallen out with each other by the end?
We maybe weren’t the quickest but as a team we worked well and managed not to fall out and just generally had a good laugh as we went round – we’re quite good at telling when one another is struggling.

Have you got any equipment tricks/tips or hacks you can share with others? 
The one tip we were given which I wish I had done was putting some kind of floatation down the front of my compression socks. As I tired I found even with my pull buoy my legs were sinking and a little bit more floatation would have been helpful.

What are your 3 biggest tips for a successful race?
#1
: Train for the specific demands of the race – it’s not a triathlon get used to getting in and out of the water and get to know what effect running has on your swimming and vice versa. Plunging back into cold water after a long run is something you need to prepare your body for!

#2: Plan when you will fuel yourself – It’s going to be a long day and the only time you can eat and drink is on the run (which isn’t easy). Look for sections of the run where it may be just as fast to walk rather than run and take on some nutrition at that point, it’s better than attempting to wolf something down as you fly through a feed station, you’ll be grateful later in the day if you do.

#3: Trial and error – Experiment with kit & tactics don’t just do what everyone else does. E.g paddles – these were not for us, we found the extra effort we had to put in did not make us any quicker & killed our shoulders but then again loads of the teams found it made them swim more efficiently

What would you say to someone thinking of signing up?
Go for it, be one of the first to say you tried swimrun – but don’t underestimate the physical challenge its completely different to a triathlon.

And there we have it, some great tips to take away there. Big thanks to Richard & Erin for taking the time out to answer these questions. If you made it this far, thanks for reading too! 
If you liked this, you might like the team profiles we’ve done so far for Breca 2016, Tuff Fitty & Tri Energy Mums
Finally, If you’ve got experience you’d like to share, or if you’d like your Breca SwimRun team profiled then get in touch. 

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