Breca Swimrun 2016 – Race Report

This is a long post….I’ll try and keep it fun. If you purely want to know about the race, scroll down and look for the header. If you’re interested in the whole experience, start here….

In case this is the first time you’ve read about a Swimrun, here’s the brief.
Swimrun is a race run in pairs across consecutive running and swimming legs, usually held over rugged terrain and in stunning locations. This is a relatively new sport, especially in the UK, but we now have a handful of races to choose from which all pose their own very different challenges.
The race we were doing was Breca Buttermere in the surroundings of the UK’s Lake District, this would be lake swims, trail runs and a hell of a lot of vertical ascent.

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So at 9:30am on Friday morning, I’d done the school run, kissed my wife goodbye and climbed into my teammate Toms car for our romantic weekend break. It took us over 9 hours to drive up to the Lakes, and somehow we hadn’t fallen out with each other yet. We discussed the subtle differences between Bracken, Heather and Ferns. The main difference being we’ve never met anyone called Bracken.
We came off the motorway at Penrith (which I thought was in Scotland) and when we reached Keswick we hit the single track roads for the last 7 or so miles to Buttermere.

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The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, waterfalls, lakes, streams, fells and valleys. Everywhere you looked there was water, you could hear water running at all times, the rocks had water coming out of them, even the grass was crying. Neither of us had brought a coat.

We arrived at the Youth Hostel (YHA Buttermere) and were welcomed by Ben, the race organiser. We checked in to our room and to kill a bit of time had a stroll down to the first Swim transition point. We immediately realised that there were several bottlenecks on the way to the lake, 2 kissing gates and a steep bank to negotiate before entering the water. I dipped my toes in and Tom took the opportunity to work on his stone skimming (lame) – it was chilly to say the least, we re-assured ourselves by imagining how warm it would be the next day.

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We strolled back to the YHA and chatted with some of the other teams, Mike and Niels from the Danish Koge Tri Team 2000 and Richard from Athlone Otters shared our table as we filled up on Pasta, Rice & Chilli. They’d done a Swimrun in Denmark and one in Llanberis respectively. We joked about how flat Denmark was and how big Mikes hands were. The hostel was filled with outdoorsy looking types with down-stuffed jackets, trail shoes and pre-race compression wear. I had skinny jeans on and no coat.

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Next stop was the bio-security checks and registration, this went smoothly, we had all the kit, our shoes were clean, and we were given our race vests and red swimcaps. Very efficient guys – good job.

There was a nervous energy in the hostel already so we decided to stroll down to the pub to watch Wales v Belgium in the Euros and stay relaxed. There were 2 pubs in the village, The Fish Inn and The Bridge. Neither of them were showing the football. In fact, neither of them had a TV. We were told the nearest one would be in Keswick……7 miles away, even if we ran there we’d probably only catch the last 10 minutes, and it was raining, and neither of us had a coat.
So we stayed at The Bridge and sampled the local Beers, Buttermere Blonde, Whistling Pig Pilsner and Mowdy Pale Ale being our favourites.

Here we met Josh and his partner Lottie. Josh would be racing in a mixed team on Saturday and Lottie was there to cheer them on. Me and Josh bonded over our matching Red Bull Steeplechase hoodies whilst Tom looked on enviously despite calling us “Steeplechase Wankers” in his head.

This was a perfect way to keep the pre-race excitement at a manageable level. Its always good to remind yourself that we do this for fun. We’re not professionals, we take well earned holiday from our jobs, never take yourself too seriously.

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With this in mind, we headed back to the hostel and sat outside with a can of beer each. It was 11pm and the fells were still silhouetted against the sky. We could hear the waterfalls and streams and as the temperature started to drop we remembered we didn’t have coats and we should probably head inside and get some sleep.

After a terrible night’s sleep due to the creaking bunk beds that Tom was too tall for, we were greeted in the morning by our room-mates Haemish and Fredrik. Turns out they raced the event last year so we were keen to get some tips. Unfortunately, it also turned out they came last so we decided to ignore all their advice anyway. The fact they’d decided to return to face their demons was a sign that this was going to be a good day.

8:00am: we went downstairs for breakfast, nothing new on raceday is the usual approach isn’t it? Not today, hash browns, sausage, egg and toast please. With a nice steaming hot mug of coffee to wash it down. We still had plenty of time before the 10am race-start and we were going to be out there for a long time, so we thought it best to eat well.

Tom declared “Why stand when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down?” and with that, we went back to our room for a lie down. People were already milling around in wetsuits with 2 hours to go. Maybe it was like heat acclimatisation?

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9:30am: Time to get our kit on, I stuffed my wetsuit pockets with 6 GU Peanut Butter gels, shoved my sealed bandage up my right sleeve, and pulled my socks up over the cut-off bits of wetsuit legs that I’d saved. Then we sat back on our beds and drank some more electrolyte drinks.

9:50am: Pre-race Gel time. The best gels I’ve ever tasted. If ever there’s a disaster where there’s a food shortage, I’ll happily live on these! We head down the stairs and outside to join the neoprene charged atmosphere outside.

9:55am: Nervous faces all around. Everyone’s cracking jokes. Tom’s psyching the opposition out by doing swim-warm-ups. There’s music playing. Swim hats are making everyone look surprised.

9:59am: We didn’t want to get stuck in the bottlenecks in the first 600m run so we’d lined up at the front. People were eyeing us up. We probably looked serious. Guns’n’Roses came on over the loudspeakers.

10:00am

THE RACE

As Axl Rose’s voice screamed out “Welcome To the Jungle…” Ben opened the gate and we were off, athletes at the back were all a bit bemused as they were busy dancing but the sentiment wasn’t lost on us at the front.

START

We kept up with the other teams along the metalled road before a sharp turn took us through a series of gates and towards the first lake. We jumped a fence next to one gate, adrenaline surging and impatience getting the better of us.
600m down to the first shoreline swim along Buttermere and we were well placed going into the water. Unfortunately, the water was bloody freezing and it completely took my breath away. I splashed water over my face but as I submerged myself I could feel my body going into panic mode. I kept my head up for a few strokes whilst the water got inside my wetsuit and helped to insulate me and I finally got into an uncomfortable rhythm. The field wasn’t well balanced at this point and there were some strong swimmers surging through the water with hand paddles. Tom kept catching the wake of other swimmers and would fly off leaving me in no-mans land, I was having to work really hard to try and get close. We quickly learned that the swim sections were going to be more about keeping me on Toms toes, rather than trying to latch onto teams with hand-paddles.
The water was crystal clear, it was like an underwater scene from a film.

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We climbed out after 600m and started running, I think we picked up a couple of places but we kept ourselves in check, reminding ourselves that this was going to be a long day. The 2nd swim was on us, this time across Crummock Water, the wind had picked up quite strongly and the water was actually quite choppy. Tom sighted us upwind slightly so we could get an easier swim in to the shore. I took a few mouthfuls of water when I got hit by the swells but it was so clean you could swallow it without adverse effects. Halfway across the lake, we found ourselves scrabbling over some rocks with some bemusement, it must have looked like we were walking on water from the waters edge!
This was another 600m swim and by the end of it I was starting to worry that I wasn’t strong enough in the water to complete the course. Enough with the negative thoughts though, they would return later but this was too early in the day. We hauled ourselves up the shore, swimming right up until we were less than knee deep, no point dragging legs through deep water.

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Next stage was a 5.7k run with just shy of 200m climb. We were reduced to walking quite quickly, hands pushing off knees, calf muscles on fire. The hill turned into a rocky staircase hewn out of the mountain itself and we dragged ourselves up, pausing only to see the lake we’d just swam in far below us and a steady stream of swimmers still making their way across.
We reached the summit and took a slight wrong turn which meant scrambling over some rocks to get back on track, sheer drops down to our right kept us focussed as we got ourselves back on safer ground. Tom saw someone go head-first over a ridge further ahead, scrabbling on the rocks with terror in her eyes as her hand-paddles slid over the surface. Someone grabbed her by the legs and pulled her back up. A quick lesson there in concentration and course respect, we need to be careful.

With each run section, any climbing would mean an equal descent to get back to the water. I overcooked it twice on this descent much to Tom’s amusement.  The first time in slow motion, clipping an earth mound with my foot and then my ankle before crashing down into the Bracken. The second time, the trail took a turn and I didn’t, within an instant I was on the floor. Tom was in bits.

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Without further incidents we made it down to the first checkpoint and we entered the 3rd swim. This was one of the two longest 1k efforts. Tom made a terrible entry into the water and ended up falling backwards over a submerged rock. This played into our hands though as it meant we latched onto a group. We stayed with them making great progress through the water until the guy Tom was drafting got dropped. In an effort to pull us back to the group I couldn’t handle the pace so we resigned ourselves to finishing this swim on our own. This was my favourite swim section, crystal clear again, several degrees warmer than Lake Buttermere and one of the big ones over before I’d even got chance to think about it too much. We got quite confused at one point as a torrential downpour came out of nowhere. Breathe to the left and it was fine, 3 strokes later, breathe to the right and it was Armageddon. Fortunately, it was over almost as quickly as it had started.

SWIM

Great support getting out of the swim section again, in fact, all around the course there were walkers, hikers, helpers, locals and they all gave encouragement. We must have surprised a few of them running round in wetsuits though! Proper food at the checkpoints too, cake, maltloaf, crisps. I stuck to a routine of water, coke, banana, then leave with a few jelly babies.

The longest run of the course (12.8k) was fairly easy, a bit of up, a bit of down and a couple of tricky navigational patches but we kept it ticking over nicely. We both run lots of trails so it was perfect for us.

By the time we got back down to the next swim, it was pretty rough weather again. There was a bit of chop on Crummock Water and the swim exit 800m away looked a long way off.
This was a tough swim, in my head I thought it was one of the 1k swims which didn’t help. One of the kayakers asked if we were OK at one point, probably because Tom had to keep stopping to let me get back on his feet. I was starting to wonder how bad the weather would have to get before they started thinking about cutting the course short.

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Once we got out here we were into a series of short runs and short swims which everyone had been looking forward to.  2.1 run, 0.4 swim, 1.2 run and as we came off the path to enter the 6th swim (0.5k) Tom got trapped hip deep in a bog. This time it was my turn to laugh as a marshall came over to help us get him out with his shoes still on his feet. At least we were still in good spirits!

Out of this swim and it was on to the last big one. The series of short swims/runs had brought my core temp right down. I hit a low point and I mentioned to Tom that I was really starting to feel the cold. He told me I wasn’t, that it was probably just my body crossing over to fat burning after using all its carb stores. He tried to cheer me up by singing “A message to you, Rudy” but changing Rudy to Marchy. It nearly worked. This was almost fun.

As we were about to enter the last big swim the marshalls were asking me if I was OK, they said I looked cold. Tom meanwhile was playing with a dog. We were told to sight off the big white building above the shore. The Daelgarth hotel. This seemed fine to me, it was big so it looked close. Tom realised that I was being tricked by the whole perspective/far away thing but thought it best to let me believe it was quite a short swim.

As we entered the water, one of the dogs came with us, I was tempted to give it my race vest and run round to meet them on the other side. I asked Tom to keep it as slow as he could and that if I wasn’t tapping his feet he was going too quick.

During this swim, I took a breath to the left and I’m convinced that I saw an Osprey swoop down to catch a fish about 50m away from us. It was a fleeting glance, and I was concentrating on staying as close to Tom as possible so I might have imagined it.

We made it to the other side, Toms swimming had been straight as an arrow again, as it had been all day and we walked up the shore. I felt bad for holding us up in the swims. Every time Tom took a stroke, he moved 2 meters ahead, it was unreal.

There was a check point here, the final one before the climb up Dale Head to the infamous Honister Pass. I tried to drink some coke, I tried to eat some cake, I tried to eat some jelly babies and I tried to eat a piece of Kendal mint cake. I say tried a lot here as my body wasn’t working. I was Hypothermic. I started violently shaking and I couldn’t move my jaw properly. Tom saw how bad I was and admits he was pretty concerned at this point. We started walking towards the Dale Head climb and took on another GU gel. Someone passed us at this point and said to their team-mate “‘kin hell, that guy’s blue!!”

The sun came out a little bit which I was hugely grateful for, and the trail was getting steeper by the second. My core temperature started coming up and I was feeling much better, we gel’d up again and used the fence posts to pull ourselves up the climb.

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The view back down to Lake Buttermere was stunning, and as the climb started to level out a bit we could see that we were only half way up. The winds started picking up as we got closer to the ridge, it was a struggle to stay on your feet at times and as we got closer to the top the sky started to fall on us.

We’d formed a little group with some teams from in front and behind us at this point and it was reassuring to know there were other people around. Visibility had dropped to less than 10m and we were being whipped with hailstones. It must have been at least 10° colder up here. We’d already put our swim hats back on for warmth and we were really concentrating on locating the arrow markers. The briefing had said that if we were likely to get lost on course, it would be here.

After a couple of false summits, we reached the Cairn that had been mentioned in the safety briefing and we knew we had to head south from there down to the quarry. A steep descent followed, sometimes runnable, sometimes not. Technical in places and at other times, just easier to rest your quads and walk.

We spotted a tent at the bottom and the marshals were waving madly at us, this was the final checkpoint I think. Tom was ready to power through, he’d had enough calories and just needed some water. I grabbed a banana and we left at a run as a French team arrived.

We had made good ground on this section, it was hard work, and scary in places. The weather had thrown everything at us but we knew that it was all downhill to the end now. The next 4 or 5k were along a Tarmac road,  the Honister Pass. Amazing on a bike I’d imagine, but hard on the quads at this moment in time.

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Cars along here were all waving and cheering, even rattling cowbells for us. We were sure that the French team were going to come past us any minute now but they never did. This was a 10k section and it must have taken us 90 minutes at least. I was actually looking forward to getting back in the water!

We hit the final swim, 400m. Tom sighting it perfectly, me struggling on behind. I wasn’t able to even kick slightly any more. Relying on my feeble arms and shoulders to produce all my power. As I approached the final landing bay my body had nothing left. Tom waded back into the water and we showed the marshals and spectators exactly what the Swimrun team ethic is all about.

1.8km left to run. And that would be it. All over. I felt sad! I can’t remember if it was raining. We didn’t have coats. We were grinning like idiots. The final trail run alongside Buttemere was beautiful. It felt like we were flying, In fact, Tom was. He tried to style it out with a commando roll and he still thinks it looked cool.

The path entered a rocky tunnel, it was pitch black and we were shouting and whooping. There was a troll in there, facing the wall and swaying. I was terrified. It was like that bit in that Will Smith film, I Am Legend. (Turns out it was just an old man with his wife and we must have scared the shit out of him as we steamed through shouting our heads off)

A moment later we were rounding the final corner, the Youth hostel was in sight. The Breca flags that marked the finish line were flapping in the wind and cheers went up as we came into the driveway. We gave each other Bro-hugs and Ben came over with beers for us!

Seven hours and eight minutes it had taken us. And we finished in 15th place.

NMB

Post race

We hung around outside to cheer in the next couple of teams before heading in to get warm and dry. We still didn’t have coats.

I was shaking again and desperately needed some proper clothes on. We hung up our wetsuits and shoes in the drying room and hit the showers and free massage tables.

We swapped stories with other teams as we waited for dinner, still cheering finishers in from the dining room. Everyone was buzzing about how much fun they’d had, no one asked about times, it wasn’t important. We cracked on with the beers and devoured the Sausage and mash when it came out. The crumble and custard for pudding was most welcome too.

The biggest cheer of the day came when the final team crossed the line almost 11 hours after the start. That’s a long time to be out on that course and I know I couldn’t have kept up that effort for that long. Chapeau! The kitchen had kept back some plates of food for them when they arrived too, nice touch and desperately needed, they didn’t even remove their wetsuits!

After dinner we went to the pub again to reflect on an amazing event. Spectacular scenery. Great encouragement and support. Well organised and really looked after in the water. Without a doubt, the best event I’ve ever done.

The thing that really made it special, was that you had a teammate all the way through it. Someone to encourage you when you felt low. Someone to help you up when you fall. An extra pair of eyes to make sure we both took everything in from the experience. And someone to distract the marshals whilst their teammate tries to stop looking so dead.

US

I experienced amazing highs during the race, and at other times felt terrible, but never once wanted to pull out. I’ve never run that far before, and never swam that far either. I verged on cramps in every muscle from the hips downwards at some point in the race but somehow pulled through it.

And now, sitting in my living room 3 nights later writing this, my legs still feel battered but I’m still buzzing. In fact, I’m still wearing my Breca finishers T shirt. I’m already hoping we can do it again next year, and that we can take a crew of club mates with us.

Thank you Breca Swimrun for this race, it’s a truly wonderful thing.

if you’ve read this far, thanks, I urge you to sign up next year, it’s incredible. Let me know if you’re tempted.

If you have any questions, fire away and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks go to:

Ben de Rivaz for setting up this event.

Bens family and friends for their involvement in making it work.

All the marshals, water safety kayaks, aid stations and list-tickers and everyone who kept us safe.

All the supporters, and hikers who gave us encouragement. Special mention to our new friend Lottie from the pub here!

Everyone at YHA Buttermere who made our stay simple and comfortable.

Linnea at Gococo socks for the best socks in the world

Want to read more reviews from Breca Swimrun?

https://glenntait.co.uk
http://thetriathletesguidetothegalaxy.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.jonathanalbon.com
http://www.greenlightpt.co.uk

 

XZC

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TRE

 

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Team Profile – One Doesn’t Swim, One Doesn’t Run

Team profile time – 7 weeks to go until Breca Buttermere. Here’s a couple of guys who look like they’re going to be pretty comfortable in the mountains. Experienced triathletes, wandering adventurers, and a cause for celebration. Lets get to know them.

Team Name: ODSODR (One Doesn’t Swim, One Doesn’t Run)
Team Members: Glenn Tait & Tony Rafferty
Team Motto: “We should start training properly soon…”

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other? 
Tony/Glenn:
We are Tony Rafferty, a 32-year-old from Edinburgh and Glenn Tait, a 32-year-old Geordie exiled in Edinburgh. We first met when studying at Heriot Watt University, which seems like ages ago now. Anyway, 10+ years on and we now live in the same area on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which is proving handy now we’re both into doing these silly events. It’s good as we can motivate each other to get out and train, then head to the local to plan the next training session or come up with crazy ideas like signing up for SwimRuns. Was beer to blame for this one? Who knows…

Tony & Glenn – One Doesn’t Swim, One Doesn’t Run

What do you do outside of daft adventures?
Tony
: By day I’m a Test Automation Engineer for a software company. By night and at the weekends I’m a keen swimmer, reader of books, watcher of F1 and consumer of coffee.
Glenn: I work for a Hospitality Solutions Provider on the IT side, and spend a lot of time in pubs and restaurants – both when working and not working. My main interest is running. I prefer to run silly long distances but I’m normally up for any type of adventure and usually make videos of them, which I share on my blog. (which is a link well worth clicking on by the way!)

What’s going to give you the edge over everyone else at Breca Swimrun?
Tony
: As you can tell by the team name we each have our individual strengths. If we could do this as a relay we’d possibly do pretty well. We have a distinct ability to compete with each other without either of us realising it. You should see us walk home from the pub together – it’s quite the footrace.
Glenn loves to buy shiny bits of kit so I’m really hoping this may give us an edge… wishful thinking perhaps?
Glenn: Tony is right, we have individual strengths. I’m always running away from him and he always swims away from me! We’re really going to have to get a tether. We’ve done a lot of work on the hills, spending most time running in the Pentlands, but I’d say we’re still amateur compared to some of the fell runners. I think my shiny new wetsuit will give me the edge – if only to keep up with Tony!

Are you happy with your teammate or are they the only other idiot you could find? Any amusing stories about them you can share?
Tony
: It’s a bit late in the day to say no to being happy with my choice in teammate, isn’t it? In the water, yes Glenn may slow me down, but I’ll do the same on foot so fair is fair. If anything each of us can encourage the other one to keep going in their weaker sport.
I know plenty of idiots but none that share the same appetite for wrapping themselves in neoprene and lycra as I do.
Glenn: No, but he’ll do….. *jokes*. Tony moans too much on the run. To be fair I did recently drag him out on a 32km run when it was only supposed to be 25kms, so I think I might have lost his trust and it certainly didn’t help with the whingeing. I’m just glad Tony can’t hear me moan when we’re swimming as sound waves don’t travel that well in swimming pools.
Any amusing stories about them you can share?
Glenn
: Tony once thought a lamb was a white rabbit just merrily sitting next to a sheep.

What attracted you to this race? 
Tony
: In 2014 I did a middle distance triathlon, which was great fun. Then, in 2015 I did the Edinburgh Marathon, which I found plain old boring. I was looking for something to do in 2016 without doing a full distance triathlon and SwimRun ticked the boxes. I’m hoping the scenery makes up for some of the suffering.
Glenn: I’ve done an Ironman, and the cycling is just too long. I wanted something different – some other challenge – and I like the simplicity of this type race. I was glad to finally persuade Tony to do this after sowing the seed quite a while ago! Plus, the Lakes is an awesome area so it’s going to be stunning and epic no matter what the weather!

Is there anything making you nervous? 
Tony: Definitely the elevation profile and the overall pace we’ll be expected to go at. I have heard that getting the body to transition from swim to run and vice versa multiple times can be a killer too.
Glenn: Yes, Tony’s wife is due to give birth three weeks after this race and I think I know where his priorities will stand when the day gets nearer. It isn’t wearing Lycra with me… Tony, shouldn’t this make you nervous too?

SWIMRUNSCENE

Whats your racing experience like?
Tony: A couple of sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. A middle distance triathlon, lots of open water swimming and last year the Edinburgh marathon.
Glenn: Was Fat. Got not so fat through running in 2010. Went on to do some marathons. Got forced into a sprint triathlon and then forced that person into doing an Ironman with me. I then decided cycling for 8 hours was too much so did Aberfeldy Middle Distance with Tony in 2014, did my first Ultra around Tiree in 2015 and now just keep on running further.  My biggest achievement was Ironman in 2013 but I’m especially proud of my 3hr 30 marathon time!

How’s the build up going?
Tony
: I was planning on doing a couple of fell races but I’ve not found anything that tickles my fancy yet. Suggestions on races in central/southern Scotland on a postcard please
The training has been in fits and starts to be honest. We’ve been in the pool twice a week and running three times a week. We’re planning on doing some SwimRun specific sessions in the run up to Breca to work out the logistics of transitioning from OW to running up hills. We’re super lucky to have the Pentland Hills only 10 minutes from our door step.
Glenn: I’ve been building up my running to run the John Muir Way Ultramarathon, but I’ve nothing after that until Breca. I agree – we do need to find some local fell races. Training is haphazard really. I swim once/twice a week when I can be bothered to get out of bed early, and run 3 times a week as Tony says. More recently I’ve been trying to complete the 255km John Muir Way trail coast to coast since 1st April and I’ve just done that so been putting some decent running miles in! I think when the reservoirs in the Pentland hills reach a warmer temp we’ll be up there getting some SwimRun practice in!

Getting some hill practice in

Will you be making a weekend of it?
Tony/Glenn:
Yes, we’re coming down on the Friday, staying Friday and Saturday (beer!) night then back home on the Sunday. We’re staying in Keswick because we didn’t get ourselves organised in time to get anything in Buttermere booked. It’s also Glenn’s birthday on race day so there’ll be some birthday celebrations once we finish. Please cheer us on and feel free to bring us cake!

Are there any questions you’d like to put to other teams/organisers/experienced SwimRunners? 
Tony: To the other teams: please don’t make us look too bad. To experienced SwimRunners: for fuelling, should we carry a couple clif bars in a pocket and eat going up hill or, struggle on without fuelling? Also, socks or no socks?
Glenn: I hadn’t thought about socks – that’s a good question! Tony: I will let you store some cliff bars in my shiny new wetsuit (it even has a pocket – how fancy) if you drag me through the water, thanks! To the experienced SwimRunners: does a tether get in the way?

You can follow Tony & Glenn’s exploits on Twitter, just click on their names for profiles.

Want to read about some of the other teams involved on July 2nd? Here’s a list of profiles so far…

Tuff Fitty
Tri Energy Mums
ATC Triology
2 Slow 2 Win, 2 Dumb 2 Quit
A Geordie & A Frog

 

Team Profile – A Geordie and A Frog

3 months to go until Breca Swimrun at Lake Buttermere. I’m only just now starting to realise how big a challenge this is going to be. I’ve been in denial up until this point.

Running = 38km
Swimming = 6km
Ascent = 1900m

9 runs/8 swims

Let’s not dwell on the specifics. In fact, let’s distract ourselves completely. I’ve been in touch with another team who are racing on July 2nd – Lets get to know them.

Team Name: A Geordie and a Frog
Team Members: Jamie Guerin & Mike Stobbs

Team Motto: Just got to get on!

Geordie - Frog

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
Mike
– Jamie and I work together at Latimer Vintners a wine merchant in London. We met playing cricket for our local village Cricket team, Wilcot CC, in Wiltshire. When Jamie finished Uni he had no idea what he wanted to do so I gave him a bit of work experience, that was 3 years ago and I still haven’t managed to get rid of him! Jamie is about as French as they come.. with a thick accent and so he adds a bit of French authenticity to the business. This counteracts my strong Geordie twang.., so I suppose he does offer something! (Actually to be honest when Jamie first started working for me he told me he was fluent in French, being half French, I believed him, turns out this was not exactly true as discovered on a trip to the Rhone valley! And while I am from Newcastle, I am not sure how well I would blend in nowadays on a Friday night down the Bigg Market…….)

What do you do when you’re not jumping into lakes with your shoes on or running round in wetsuits?
Mike– I have a four year old son, who’s great fun and so I enjoy spending time with him. On the sport front I do some running on the Salisbury plain or round the streets of London, play squash, cricket, real tennis and now have started swimming more regularly than I have in the past. Beyond that my job takes up a lot of time and due to the nature of being a wine merchant I have to eat and drink a fair amount which will be the excuse I use for our less than stellar performance on July 2nd.
Jamie– I enjoy a range of sports and especially love playing and watching cricket in the summer.

What attracted you to this race? Why Swimrun, why not a normal run or a triathlon?
Mike– I am turning 40 this year and decided I wanted to do a proper challenge having done a few half marathons and cross country runs over the past few years. The thought of marathon is a bit boring and I have no interest in cycling so a triathlon was out although that said I was not exactly an avid swimmer either! I saw an article on the swim run in the Guardian and it appealed as it was a bit different and would definitely be a big challenge but one that seemed achievable with a lot of training. Also I went on family holidays in the lake district every year when I was kid and I have done a lot of walking over there and used to swim in the lake (Ulswater) everyday, so I have a soft spot for the region. Finally it seemed like a big enough deal to use it to raise some money for charity which I support the MSA Trust.

Do you have a personal connection with the charity? 
Mike
– Yes its a syndrome that my dad had and so I have seen how it effects people first hand. It’s a Parkinson related neurological disorder which causes degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and  causes all kinds of physical problems for those who suffer from it. There is no cure and very little is known about how to treat it effectively. As I have said I have very fond memories of holidays with him in the lakes when I was young so it seemed like a good way to remember him and try and raise some cash. Here is a link to my just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/CM-Stobbs/

Jamie– Having just turned 25 I do not have the same mid-life crisis reason as Mike who is nearly over the hill… however it seemed a good step up from some triathlons I dabbled in last year as well as the marathon. Having played cricket alongside Mike for several years and had plenty of competitive games of squash against him I was only too happy to join him on this challenge, also he might have fired me had I refused. Daunting as it seems training is stepping up week on week and I am really looking forward to this challenge!

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I love how far removed this race is from village cricket. And the fact you’ve jumped straight in screams mid-life crisis, I agree with Jamie! It would be much easier to just go and buy a sports car. How mad do the people around you think you are?
Mike
– Generally speaking yes, Georgie was not keen when I suggested it but is now totally on board. Most people think I am completely mad but my view is why not, what’s the worst that can happen (don’t answer that!)

Will you be dashing back down to London or are you hoping to have a long weekend?
Mike
– No, my girlfriend (Georgie) is coming along to support us so we are going to spend a couple of days in lakes after the event.

Any chance of bringing some wine up to Buttermere? I’m quite certain it will taste amazing after the event! In fact, what wine would you recommend after this!?
Mike
– I will certainly be needing some so yes a few sneaky bottles will makes their way in to the boot of the car. To be honest I suspect anything will taste good after the event but if pushed I reckon a nice Double Magnum of Ch Romanin Rosé would hit the spot!

When do you think you’re going to start getting in some open water swim practice?
Mike
– As soon as the wetsuit arrives which should be in the next week or two (I have Gone for the Orca Swimrun suit). There are a couple of lakes near London (Heron Lake and liquid Leisure) which I think will be the regular options (any other suggestions gratefully received). We also have a couple of training weekends in the diary when we plan to practice the transitions etc. One of them will be in the Lake District in May where we are going to try and replicate a bit of what we will face in July.

So you guys are training together as well?
Mike
– Yes, we have done a couple of runs together and we both did the Pewsey Terminator on Feb 28th. We are also planning a couple of training weekends in May and June.

It’s going to get tough out on the course, it’s a long old race. What mental tricks will you employ to keep yourselves going?
Mike
– Well Jamie doesn’t shut up so I guess that will either entertain or irritate me enough to take my mind off the pain. Beyond that I am sure we will manage to keep each other going with some inane chat and a few jokes along the way.

What do you see as your biggest strengths?
Mike
– I am pretty determined and I don’t generally give up on things (ask Jamie re the Phall challenge). Jamie’s biggest strength is probably an extraordinary (and potentially delusional) self-belief when it comes to his sporting ability/prowess he has described himself as “a natural athlete”.

And finally…

Karaoke song of choice?
Mike
– Ain’t no doubt– Jimmy Nail
Jamie – Je ne regretted rien – Edith Piaf

A double act that you aspire to be like (or might be tarnished with!)
Glen McGrath and Shane Warne (just to keep on the cricket theme)

 

Looking forward to meeting these guys up in the lakes on race day. Good luck with the training and with the fundraising (here’s the JustGiving page once again – www.justgiving.com/CM-Stobbs/)

And a reminder of the Breca teams featured so far:

Tuff Fitty
Tri Energy Mums
ATC Triology
2 Slow 2 Win, 2 Dumb 2 Quit

I hope everyone’s trainings going well, mine’s still yet to kick off properly, although my team-mate has done a couple of Aquathlons already. I’ve got some catching up to do.

Please get in touch if you fancy answering some questions about your team. Its great to read some of the stories and learn a bit more about who we’re all racing with.

 

TEAM PROFILE – 2 SLOW 2 WIN, 2 DUMB 2 QUIT

Have you got a drink? Put it down. These guys will probably make you spit it all over your screen.
Part of the reason for doing these profiles is so we might be able to identify each other on the day and strike up conversations easily. I must say, after this interview I’m really looking forward to meeting these guys at Breca Swimrun although I wouldn’t accept a drink off them during the race…..it might be sabotage.

Team Name: 2 Slow 2 Win 2 Dumb 2 Quit
Team Members: Manuel Campana / Dino Sarpi

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The chuckle brothers – happy with Pizza & Beer

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
Dino: My name is Dino, the result of an eclectic mix of Iranian and Italian blood resulting in what was summarised in the year book as a Terrorist Pornstar… being a terrorist is no longer cool and the pornstar days are long over or were just wishful thinking! I have known Manuel since I was 10? but didn’t talk to him for several years because he was hanging out with ass-holes.
Manuel: Just for the record, we were 13. And very good friends. Then something yet unknown to mankind happened in his brain and he stopped talking to me. Then one day he must have come to his senses and here we are, good friends again. Go figure. I’m really enjoying our friendship now though. Hopefully he won’t change his mind again.
Anyway. I’m Manuel, 100% Italian, no terrorist at all, let alone porn-star. Web developer by day and nothing by night because I have a tendency to fall asleep straight after dinner.

Italians eh?  On a scale between Ferrari and Fiat, where would you like to put yourselves? Judging by the team-name, I’m going with Lambretta?
Dino: Italy is also well known for wine, Amaretto Disaronno (feels like there’s a theme here), good food, and bunga bunga (watch out!); but if you put it that way, yes, since Manuel is part of the team we’d go with a rusty Lambretta Innocenti or an even rustier Ape Piaggio (go on, google it). With all due respect to Innocenti and Piaggio of course.
What attracted you to this race? Why Swimrun, why not a normal race/triathlon?
Manuel: Not a triathlon mainly because it would involve buying a bike or race on a Boris bike (although I’m still considering the latter). Not a normal race because I keep listening to my friend here. I should probably learn how not to.
Dino: No longer terror-porn-starring-wishful-thinking, so this was the next best thing!

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Where do you see yourselves being strongest?
Dino: Weeeeeelll…. so…. Manuel…. basically… he will try very hard. I am there to try and make sure he finishes. As for everyone else, please go faster else you may be used as a flotation device.
Manuel: What do you mean ‘try’? You WILL make sure I finish! Also you’ll make sure I finish ALIVE! Won’t you? Yes you will. I’m sure he will.
Also if I find an effective way to make him tow me without realizing it, we may even aim at a decent time. But seriously? My strength is definitely my teammate. We’ve known each other a long time and we love spending time together. The fact that I’m doing this race with him gives me a big hype. I’ll try my best not to slow him down too much but in any event I’m sure we’ll enjoy every second of it.

Are you happy with your teammate?
Dino: Manuel is probably the best team mate you could wish for. I always wanted to…
Manuel: *interrupts*  I didn’t have much choice to be honest. I’m just not sure whether or not we’ll still want to be friends after the race.
Dino: What?!?!? …drown him, so here I will have the opportunity.
Manuel: Hahaha! See? Friendship is in jeopardy already!

Any amusing stories you’d like to share with us?
Manuel: Amusing stories about Dino?
So… *coughs* …first of all I have to say that my storytelling skills are not that good and this guy here is such a character that you’d have to know him to fully understand what he is like. Me telling a story doesn’t even cut it, plus the funniest episodes are usually quite obscene in a way or another.

Having said that,  there is an episode that can be published uncensored. We were in north Wales for a double ironman (needless to say I was only supporting) and the participants had to do registration the evening before the race. So in the afternoon we were meticulously going through the mandatory kit list that needed to be approved at registration. It occurred to me that said list wasn’t very precise and left a lot to interpretation. For example they required to carry at least a certain amount of drink to avoid dehydration. But they didn’t specify in what container. A bottle? A bladder? A flask? And they didn’t even specify what kind of drink. Water? Energy drink? Orange juice? Presumably it was irrelevant. However, with Dino taking part, they should definitely have specified.

So off to registration we went. The lovely lady who checked us started going through all his stuff. First aid kit, check. Waterproof jacket, check. Whistle, check. Head torch, check. Drink….. er…. excuse me Dino, where is your mandatory drink to avoid dehydration? And he simply replied “well, your list wasn’t very precise so…. there!” pointing at his bike.

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Dino: I didn’t finish the race… seriously! Our friend Chris had to pick me up off the side of the road at midnight after 150miles of cycling.

Have you looked at the course map yet? Is there anything making you nervous?
Dino: Bring it on.
Manuel: There’s a big difference between looking at a graph on the screen with your hand scraping the bottom of a pack of crisps and actually running that graph. But the thing that makes me nervous the most are the constant reminders from Dino (e.g. Emails with subject: “You’re in the shit now!”).

What have you done in the past? Give us a brief background.
Manuel: Until last year just some sporadic climbing, some recreational skating, a lot of snowboarding, and the rest was in front of an Xbox. Then last year, probably due to a premature midlife crisis, I joined BMF (British Military Fitness) and started doing various OCRs (Spartan and whatnot), some swims, aquathlons, etc. Now I’m trying to move towards fewer but more “serious” events. Let’s see if I’ve got what it takes.
Dino: I have participated in several running, swimming and triathlons (I have a feeling this might be a modest understatement folks!)

Are you planning on any particular races in the build up?
Manuel: Nothing planned yet, but I’ve got at least a couple of swims in mind. As for running, for now I’m giving some rest to an injured ankle but normally I train on the hills of Hampstead Heath and enjoy the beautiful views that my local park has to offer.

Will you be making a weekend of it or is it a splash,dash & grab?
Manuel: My hope is to make a weekend of it. I’ve never been there and I’d love to enjoy the place and bring home some nice memories; other than just pain and suffering. Let’s see if the girlfriend will oblige.
Dino: Girlfriends decide.

Are there any questions you’d like to put to other teams/organisers/experienced swimrunners?
Manuel: Can you all pull out, please? Jokes aside, I’d love to read other interviews. It makes the race more personal. I understand it’s a race so you kinda want to demolish the other competitors (be prepared guys, I’m ruthless), but usually you just race with other people and getting to know them a bit more is something that could really make a better event.
As for the race itself my biggest question mark is the amount of stuff to carry and how. I guess experienced swimrunners might be able to help there?
Dino: The secret to a good time is proper lubrication, so how do you stop chafing from happening during a swimrum event!?!?
You mean SwimRUN right?
Man
uel: No no, that seems plausible, I’m pretty sure he meant swimRUM

Pick a famous duo you can compare yourselves with:
Dino: Tom & Jerry? Road Runner & Willy Coyote? Pinky & The Brain?
Manuel: No no no. I don’t want to be Tom nor Willy. Let alone Pinky. Pfft. I was thinking more something along the lines of Mario and Luigi. Then my girlfriend got involved and she suggested the Chuckle brothers. I had no idea who they were so I googled them. I think I want a new girlfriend.
To you, to me, to you, to me…

chuckle
Manuel & Dino with a lady who is definitely not holding a cock in a glass
Post-race Food/Drink of choice?
Dino: Can we leave a message to the RDs? Provided Manuel survives and makes it to the finish line on his legs, we would be extremely grateful if you could have a hot calzone and a fresh pint waiting for us. Thanks.
Manuel: Seriously. It would be a massive achievement for me, but asking for press and TV to celebrate the event seemed a bit too much, so I think pizza and beer is a fair compromise.

Afterparty Karaoke song of choice?
Manuel: Uh oh… this is not going to end up well… we could be on a very dangerous ground here… especially after a few tequilas. We won’t say anything for now to avoid compromising the little reputation, if any, we’ve got left.

If you’d like YOUR team to be featured on here, drop a comment below, or on twitter, or send me a message and we’ll get on the case. It would be great to get as many profiles before race day as we can. Fast, slow or just in it for a laugh, I’m fascinated to see who we’re all up against!

Have a look here for the Breca SwimRun profiles so far:
Tuff Fitty
Tri Energy Mums
ATC Triology

And for some great SwimRun tips make sure to read this interview here. Its got everything from kit-tips to videos on how to transition.

TEAM PROFILE – ATC TRIOLOGY

Make a cup of tea, sit yourselves down and put your feet up, it’s time for our next Breca SwimRun team to take the spotlight.  This time we’ve got some strong swimmers who may be prone to getting lost….

Team Name: ATC Triology
Team Members: Michelle Scott / Dan Halladay
Team motto: Get The Map Out!

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Dan & Michelle – taking it easy at the pool

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
Michelle Scott, from a little town called Shildon (home of the railways). Met Dan through Aycliffe Tri Club when It was discussed that I would no longer be the fastest swimmer in the club!
Dan Halladay 32 from a little town just south of Durham, we both coach and train together. Once we got talking it turned out that we both went to the same swim club as kids together and probably crossed paths before. Continue reading “TEAM PROFILE – ATC TRIOLOGY”

SwimRun: How the champions do it!

Team Sportextreme.com: Winners at LochGuLoch!
Team Sportextreme.com: Winners at LochGuLoch!

There must be something in the water up in Edinburgh as following hot on the heels of our last post, we’ve got an all-female team from the same Tri Club!  This time its the winners from LochGuLoch 2015 sharing their SwimRun story so far. They’ve got masses of endurance event experience between them and unfinished business at oTillo it seems.
If you’re hoping to learn anything from these interviews – THIS is essential reading!

So between mouthfulls of noodles at a post-swim Wagamama’s here’s what they had to say….

Team name: sportextreme.com
Team members: Rosemary Byde / Izzy Joiner

medals

How do you know each other? 
We met in 2012 a week before the Celtman triathlon at a reservoir in the hills above Edinburgh. We’re in the same club, and someone introduced us. Then we got to know each other in intervals of 10 seconds as we passed and re-passed during the race. But we didn’t meet up regularly or get to know each other really well until this year. This was our first year doing swimrun together, and our first race was in June.

What do you do when you’re not jumping into cold water with your shoes on?
IJ: Lie on the sofa / get warm! Cycle and run, but there’s not been much cycling going on this year. Sit with my cat.
RB: In fact, we do both have respectable jobs as well. But they keep getting in the way of training! I like to call myself a high tech crime fighter. I’m also learning Italian, so I keep looking out for teams from Italy, though I haven’t managed to talk to any yet.

You were 1st female team at lochguloch, and finishers at the Ötillö world champs, what else do you have on your cv?
RB: We came 3rd at our first swimrun race in Borås in June.
IJ: We both did well at the first Celtman event. I’m an Ironman addict and my best result was 5th in age group at Ironman France.
RB: I love adventure racing and have done everything from 5 hour to 5 day non-stop events in all weathers. I’ve managed to get on the podium in a few triathlons as well. Izzy’s finished an ultra run, which I’m a bit jealous about!

crossing the line at ÖTILLÖ 2015
crossing the line at ÖTILLÖ 2015

And how’s your calendar looking for 2016?
IJ: There are lots of things on the ‘want to do list’, but the calendars empty!
RB: It’s because we want to try and get into Ötillö again. What we do depends on the outcome of our application. We’re definitely going to do some more swimrun though.
IJ: I want to do another Ironman if I can, in the middle of it all!
RB: If we don’t qualify for Ötillö, we’ll be spoilt for choice with all the new races here. I’d like to do some more longer running events as well.

How do the swimrun races you’ve done rank against other endurance events you’ve done?
IJ: Hard! It’s quite tough and relentless because of the number of changes between swimming and running. It’s harder to break it down mentally.
RB: I asked Izzy on the finish line of Ötillö how it compared to an ironman, and she said definitely harder! There was something about the emotion that went into it, and the stress we had at times racing the cut offs. In some ways I found it more physically draining even than multi-day events, because of the intensity (speed).
IJ: I don’t think anything can quite compare to the first Ironman I finished, which was also my first endurance event. But swimrun is very different, it’s more wild, and the swims aren’t as sanitised and safe. There are fewer rules and you’re not going to bump into a referee on a motorbike! The fields are also smaller which makes it feel more intense.
RB: I like doing triathlon, but I prefer the way you feel as if you’re going on a journey from one place to another in a swimrun.

LochGuLoch - Stunning surroundings (photo Steve Ahsworth)
LochGuLoch – Stunning surroundings (photo Steve Ahsworth)

How does it feel being at the front of a race, rather than chasing someone else down?
IJ: I don’t like it! It’s stressful!
RB: In triathlon, if I start the run in the lead I feel under a lot of pressure as it’s my weakest link. But in swimrun, the disciplines are more balanced throughout, so I felt more confident. I agree it can be stressful though.
IJ: If you all have the same colour swim hats it is harder to identify who you’re racing against. I mistook one poor guy without a hat and with long hair for a girl at Loch gu Loch. I thought a female team was about to overtake us!
RB: She did apologise to him though!

Endurance races are about mental strength as much as physical strength, how do you help each other through the lows?
RB: I tried singing to cheer Izzy up a few times, but I might have made it worse!
IJ: When Rosemary’s having a low, I like to check she’s OK and chat to her.
RB: Yeah, that helps, I like some chat! The right food proffered at the right time can also work wonders.
IJ: In a long hard run at Ötillö, Rosemary broke the run into smaller chunks by checking how fast we were running every 8 minutes.
RB: I love thinking about numbers and statistics. I think Izzy might have switched off to my ramblings after a while though!

Which one of you breaks first?
IJ: Neither of us breaks, we might just have a little paddy and then move on!
RB: I agree, it’s a team event so you’re always working together and helping each other. It’s so long that you’ll both have ups and downs. I only chose to race with Izzy because I knew she was tough enough.

Before we go any further, I’d just like to point everyone towards these 2 articles you wrote for LochGuLoch. If you’re new to SwimRun and have any questions on kit or tactics or pretty much anything else – these articles have it covered.
http://lochguloch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/toptips.pdf
http://lochguloch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/toptips2.pdf

 

The tips articles you did for lochguloch are brilliant and I’m finding them really helpful for creating my own kit list and training schedule. Did you get much feedback from other swimrunners on those?
RB: it was funny as we kept bumping into people when we were out training who had read our tips and knew us!
IJ: At the start of Loch gu Loch we got loads of comments from other racers around us.
RB: I was surprised how many people had read them. It was great to get such positive feedback.
IJ: When we got off the boat that takes you to the start at Ötillö, one of the race directors told us he liked our transition video: ‘very British humour’, he said!

What did you have to learn the hard way?
IJ: To put superglue on the back of my neck! I was getting bad wetsuit rash. We worked out it was better if I did my suit up a certain way, but it had got so bad it never really healed. You should also be careful which tri shorts to use if you want to avoid chaffage!
RB: I stuck with running shorts. I don’t think we made any major mistakes because we did a lot of research into kit and spoke to people who had raced swimrun before.
IJ: It wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating!
RB: One thing we did learn is that if you’re going to race on rocks, you should train on rocks. We had a very tough time at Ötillö on some of the unfamiliar terrain. I’d also mention it’s a good idea to bring running shoes with you to a swim run training session …

Most racers at UK events next year are going to be first-timers. What are your 3 top tips for success?
IJ: Practice doing swim and run together, practice transitions, practice in your kit!
RB: Learn how to wee whilst swimming, make sure your food wrappers are waterproof, never give up.

You’re in a wetsuit for a long time during the race so you must be faced with 2 choices: do you wee on the run or the swim?!
IJ: On the swim – much easier!
RB: I tried to master that skill but I still need to practice some more 😀 . I mostly went for the in-between moments.

Does everyone around you think you’re mad?
IJ: Yes!
RB: It depends who’s around, but yes! We’re in good company though 🙂

 

If you want to read more about Rosemary’s adventures, you can follow her exploits at www.planetbyde.co.uk – it really is an inspiring diary of an endurance athlete.

Once again, if you made it this far then you must be keen! Give me a shout if you’d like your team featured in an article. Experienced or first-timers, we want to hear from you. We’ve had no-one who did the BrecaSwimrun race in 2015 yet, where are you? Get in touch!

If you liked this, you might like our other SwimRun Team Profiles

The Grande Rouge
Tri Energy Mums
Tuff Fitty

 

 

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. 

TEAM PROFILE – TRI ENERGY MUMS

No. 2 in the Breca SwimRun team profiles – this week we have our first female team. We got in touch via twitter last week which gave us the chance to fire a few questions over.

Team Name: Tri Energy Mums
Team Members: Sam Anderson & Lenka Moore
Team Motto: UNITED WE SWIMRUN!

3 word foreword: THIS IS EPIC!

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
Hi – we’re Sam & Lenka from Stourport on Severn near Worcester. We met through our Tri Club and in turn set up a Kids Tri Team (Tri Energy Kids) where we coach together every Monday night. Lenka’s 2 children come to the kids tri club too. We’ve known each other for 3 years and always have a good laugh!

Sam & Lenka
(L) Sam Anderson sporting GB Kit (R) Lenka Moore showing off her trophies and children!

What do you do when you’re not jumping into lakes with your shoes on or running round in wetsuits?
SA –
I’m on maternity leave at the moment! So I can be found shaking maracas, drinking tea and talking to other Mums about feeding, sleeping and nappy changes! I’ve also started local buggyfit classes for Mums in the area which we do three times a week.
LM – I am an accountant running a business with my husband. This allows me to work from home a lot so I can be there for the kids. And I like running round in shoes and swimming in my wetsuit, I have just never done it all mixed together so it should be fun.

What attracted you to Breca SwimRun?
SA
– I’ve raced close to 100 multisport events and was looking for something different. I had my son Bobby in June of this year and knew time would be limited in terms of being able to train on the bike etc so I wanted an event that had a bit more running in as I can get out running with Bobby in the buggy anytime I like. We live near Wyre Forest which has some lovely hilly routes – not quite the Honister Pass though!!!
LM –  I have done triathlons for about 4 years and fancied something different so when Sam asked me to be her partner I jumped at the opportunity.

Team Dynamics: Whats going to give you the edge over everyone else?
SA – The bike is my strength, which is a bit of a problem! Ooops! Other than that my strength is doing things for other people. I love helping and supporting and encouraging others and even if I was on my last legs I’d tell Lenka I was enjoying it to keep her spirits high! I’d hate to let her down and so I think that loyalty to each other will really boost us and keep us going.

LM – I am quite chilled and level headed so I am hoping to feed off Sam’s enthusiasm and keep us on the right track. We will definitely be there for each other when the going gets tough.
We are both mums and I think that gives you mental strength you never knew you had.

Are you happy with your teammate?
LM – Sam’s original choice of a partner changed her mind (I wonder why??) so I was really chuffed when Sam asked me!  She is a better swimmer than me so I am hoping for a tow and I will definitely be in charge of the map!
SA –
We are very similar swimmers actually, so that’s an advantage. We live really close to each other too so hoping that being local means we can drag each other out to train! I’m hoping Lenka’s sense of navigation is much better than mine – I ended up waddling through the River Severn at 38 weeks pregnant trying to get home as I’d taken a wrong turn!

Waddling through the River Severn?”
SA –
I’d walked for 2 hours at 38 weeks pregnant to get to a group called ‘Bumps and Babes’. I had totally underestimated how long it would take me. On the way home I was convinced I could find a quicker route but got totally lost and when I saw the river I knew I should be the other side of it! I started wading through it but then came to my senses! When I eventually got a signal (I was in the middle of nowhere) I had to call a friend to come and rescue me!

Have you looked at the course map yet? Is there anything making you nervous?
SA – errr…not really looked at that yet – ignorance is bliss!
LM – I am with Sam on this one. Lake district is beautiful so I am looking forward to the views.

What have you done in the past? Give us a bit of background.
SA – I’ve raced triathlon since 2009. I won British and European Age Group Gold in 2013 and then 2 more European medals in Duathlon and Aquathlon in 2014. My claim to fame was spotting myself on TV after doing a few of the British Elite Super Series races (I was being lapped!) This year I’ve done absolutely nothing and struggle to run 5km at the moment! I’ve not swum since April and my bike is still in the bikebox from the 2014 Canada World Champs! I’m hoping this epic race will scare me into training sooner rather than later!
LM – Sam is my claim to fame. I am racing with a European champion!! I started doing triathlons to keep fit and I wanted a challenge. My children were quite young so finding time to train has always been a problem for me. I have won a few local races and got to represent GB in 2013 in my age group. But now the kids are growing up, they started joining in with Sam’s tri club so I feel ready to take on something epic and this is where Breca swim/run comes in.

Proving to the kids that Mum’s still got it eh? Or just setting an example/Showing them what can be achieved?
LM
: A bit of both!

Are you planning on any particular races in the build up?
SA
– we’ve seen some random orienteering races that are close to home. I’ve also entered some off road trail runs through the winter; and we’ll keep chipping away at our local park run – that killer hill at the end with a buggy has got to count for something?
LM – Our local park run has a few hills in it and the whole family can join in. Cross country races are always good training, the Gloucestershire league is fab. And I am sure we will find some longer off road races in new year.

Will you be making a weekend of it or is it a splash,dash & grab?
SA – I’d go for a week if we could!!! We’ve persuaded friends Sophie and Caroline (Team Mad Chicks) to race too – we’ll be competing with them to avoid the wooden spoon! So the plan is for us all to go and stay in a big house together and drink wine and talk about how good we could have been if it wasn’t for x, y and z!
LM – Funny we have organised the weekend and the party, invited friends, planned the food and wine and haven’t even looked at the race details! We must sort out our priorities!

Lenka & Team Mad Chicks
Lenka, Agnetha, Anni-Frid & Caroline (Team Mad Chicks) The SwimRun afterparty looks like it might be fun!

A bit of friendly rivalry? Lets just set it out now in writing, lay down the challenge, so everyone can see it – Are you going to beat them?
Well let’s just say the beauty of an endurance event means anything can happen! We’re secretly hoping that Caroline spots a pub on the route and gets sidetracked to go and have a glass of red vino; and that just the one will turn into her retiring from the race!!

Are there any questions you’d like to put to other teams/organisers/experienced swimrunners? Anything you’re curious about?
SA – would anyone like to donate us some kit??? 
LM –
 I have loads of questions! I would like to know what kind of food will be provided at the feed stations. And what kind of shoes are the best to swim in? How to prevent chaffing and blisters? Socks or no socks? Are the lakes quite cold? What if I need a loo?…..

Good questions, I’ll be putting some of these questions to experienced swimrunners and to the race director in the near future.
Brill, thank you!

If you’d like to have your team featured, or maybe you’ve done a SwimRun event before and want to share valuable experience with others. Get in touch and we can fire some questions at you.

Team Profile – Tuff Fitty

In the first of a series of team profiles for Breca SwimRun 2016 I’ve kept things close to home, starting with our own team. We took a few minutes to answer a few questions…

Team Tuff Fitty - working on our pre-race nutrition
Team Tuff Fitty – working on our pre-race nutrition – Tom (left) Marchy(right)

Team Name – Tuff Fitty 
Team Members – Tom Goddard & Dave March

Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
TG:
This sounds a bit like blind date. ‘Hi I’m Tom from Worthing and I’m looking for a brummy with killer glutes and triceps’. I know Marchy from the local tri club (Tuff Fitty) as the member who has done the fewest triathlons (1 I think!).
DM: one and a half actually if you count the relays.
TG: He is also my running coach at the track and makes me run round in circles really fast.
DM: I’m Dave, better known as Marchy. I’m from Birmingham originally and moved to Worthing about 6 years ago after a short stint in France. It’s nice here but it means travelling huge distances to all the really interesting races.

What attracted you to this race? Why Swimrun, why not a normal race!?
TG
: I normally like to go fast and find endurance events a bit boring but I feel with the varying, challenging terrain, epic scenery and having a buddy along for the journey I might just about be able to tolerate this one. Plus I’m sick of racing triathlons where I come out of the water in the lead, everyone overtakes me on the bike and then I have to overtake them again on the run.
DM: I like to do 1 big daft race each year and it didn’t take much to persuade me to do this one. The scenery for Breca SwimRun looks stunning and if I’m honest, the bike part of triathlons is the bit I like least, so I’m more than happy to race a multiple aquathon.
I also like the fact its on a Saturday, which means chip shops should be open for glorious post-race nutrition.

What do you each bring to the team? Give us a SWAT analysis.
TG
: I’ll bring a tow rope for Marchy on the swim, the possibly delusional belief that I can win every race that I enter, and the ability to still crack bad jokes in a race when most people are struggling to breathe. Marchy brings an amusing accent, even more amusing hair/ facial hair and some pretty tidy running skills.
DM: Cheers Tom, I’ll get yow for that. Strengths: Tom, Weaknesses: Me. Threats: Toms air of supreme confidence? Our ability to not take it very seriously? Our potential to get a bit carried away the night before?

Are you happy with your teammate? Or is it more a case of being the only other idiot you could find?
TG
: Yeah we’ll definitely win.
DM: He’s definitely an idiot.

Have you looked at the course map yet? Is there anything causing you to wake up in the night in a cold sweat? 
TG:
It is a fairly hefty distance to run but hopefully the interesting terrain will occupy my mind rather than how far it is until the next swim. I also hate the cold so it would be nice if the next one we did could be in the Med or somewhere nice and warm like that.
DM:
The hill at the end is worrying me, there’s escalators right?

Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile

I’m also terrified of getting lost. Roaming the peaks in half a wetsuit. Whats that film now? Sightseers….have you seen that? There’s nutters out there in the wilderness.

Its still early days, but have you thought about race tactics yet?
TG
: I’m sure we can devise some sort of tethering system which could also prove useful for tripping up our opposition when exiting the water. I think we are fairly evenly matched on the run and I see this as the key area of the race as we’ll spend more time running.
DM: My plan is simply to try and keep up with Tom, If I can do that then the race might look after itself.

What have you done in the past?
TG
: I used to race mountain bikes and be a swimmer and water polo player. I now race triathlon and have represented the GBR age group team. I have done a marathon and swam the channel before so I have a history of agreeing to stupid challenges.
DM: I used to smoke and drink and play records to others who were smoking and drinking until 5 years ago. Since then I’ve done Brighton & London Marathons, the Red Bull Steeplechase and the Downslink Ultra – some of it anyway.  Our team looks a bit mis-matched here doesn’t it?
TG: You must have some sporting acheivements?
DM: I won a set of tyre levers at Southwater Tri Relays for having the Best Moustache. I’m hoping to better that to be honest. If we come away with a trophy, the tyre levers will definitely be relegated from the mantlepiece, but maybe we should grow tache’s just in case. Other than that, I recently beat Tom in a cross country race, he must have been having an off day. Maybe he wanted to give me a confidence boost, either way after that result I’m confident we can win this.

Are you planning on any particular races in the build up?
DM:
I’m going to do the 3 Forts marathon as its on my doorstep and takes in the toughest terrain we’ve got on the South Downs. What about you Tom?
TG
: Nothing specifically to prepare for this. I am doing the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp ½ marathon (DM: tagline, “A run for idiots” – I rest my case) in Wales and the olympic distance ETU champs in Lisbon before but most of the prep will be long hilly trail runs over the south downs, a lot of sea swimming and some specific swim-run-repeat session with the wetsuit and soggy trainers. When did you last swim Dave?
DM: About 18 months ago. unless you count standing in a cold pool with my 4 year old boy as his lips turn blue.
TG (starting to look worried): Are you going to do any swim training?
DM: Nah. I’ll just rock up on the day. Although building up to that I’ll probably keep promising to do some. At the moment, I don’t even own a wetsuit.

Would you like a crack at oTillo if this goes well?
TG
: Yes. How do we qualify?
DM: I anticipate this might be our first and last race together. I’ll be amazed if we return in the same car.

Assuming you’re going to travel up together, have you got any must-haves for the soundtrack?
TG
: I am loving Benjamin Booker, Alabama Shakes and Teleman at the moment but I know Marchy is a boy of the 90s so we’ll need to chuck some Stone Roses and Massive Attack in there too!
DM: You can take the boy out of the 90’s…. I’d like a bit of Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip too. In my world, new music stopped being made when my son was born, it got replaced with things like The Gruffalo, and The Hungry Caterpillar, I could bring those?

Have you got any SwimRun equipment on your Xmas list?
TG
: If Santa’s reading this a Zone3 Evolution wetsuit would be ace! Other than that I have a pull buoy and hand paddles and can drill some drainage holes in my trail shoes.
DM: I’m going to have to get handy with a pair of scissors to create a budget swimrun wetsuit, will have to do without pockets though. Must remember to take feet out of shoes when drilling holes too.

 

Now you’ve got to know our team a little bit more, maybe you’d like to have your team featured. Or maybe you’ve done a SwimRun event before and want to share valuable experience with others. Get in touch and we can fire some questions at you.

I want to know who we’re racing, lets make this personal!