A member of the Aloha Tri Team, Henry Potter has been working with us for a while. As with all things, we do support a good variety of events in our training programmes. Swim Run is one of them! Here is Henry’s story! It’s a great read.
Nine months ago, I was in the Pub with my brother and he mentioned he wanted to do a swim run race. Having never previously shown any interest in anything longer than the Red Bull 400, I logged it away. One month later, short on ideas I went back to this and bought a team entry at Breca Coniston for his birthday. On realising what I’d signed him up for he seemed a little worried….
Skip forward a bit and last weekend after training throughout this year, we found ourselves on the start line for the race. Our plan for the race was just to get round and enjoy it- thus we decide to start at the back of the pack….this was a mistake. The start was in a small car park up near where Beatrix Potter (we’re not related) lived, which led onto a narrow path where you were unable to pass anyone….so we remained at the back for next 1 km. I should mention at this point a little about the kit. Wetsuit (compulsory) and from looking around at the start it seems ORCA have cornered the swim run market as 75% seems to be wearing one of their products, including us. And I have to say that contrary to my misgivings running in the wetsuit was comfortable…just very hot. Then you had hat/goggles and also almost everyone had a pull buoy strapped to their leg. Which as you can’t kick with trainers on helps keep your legs up, but means the swim is entirely shoulder based. I would then say that 50% used hand or finger paddles, I think we would have done the same, but we didn’t practice enough with them before to be comfortable on 3k’s worth of swimming with them.
The course based in the Lake District was 21km’s in total, broken down into 3k or swimming in 5 sections- the longest being 900m and 18ks of running, in 6 sections the longest at 6k’s. There were a few hills to negotiate on the run and it was almost all on trails.
Having made it to the first swim we turned our pull buoys between our legs and jumped in, we tried to stay together having practiced a bit of drafting and swimming on each others shoulders but it was similar to the start and with the chaos we ended up getting separated. On getting out we had ended up only being 20 seconds apart and then got back to running. The first k out of the water I found really tough, having previously done tri I had never had an issue with the swim/bike transition and even during training I had been ok but this was different and it took a full k to find some sort of rhythm. Just as I had got into my stride it was time to swim again. In and out of the water it went for a few more sections until we reached the 6k run which also included an assent over the hills with 150m of climb. This reduced the field to a crawl up to the top where we were greeted with some great views of the lakes. At this point I was boiling, even with my wetsuit undone and swim cap off so was happy when we had got down for the next swim. With 1 more run and swim to got we noticed that we were starting to run past a few people walking and swims were much more spread out and you could really enjoy being out in the middle of the lake without bumping into people. Getting out the final swim it was only 1k to the finish so we sorted out our gear and made for the finish and a beer. We finished 24th out of the 50 men’s teams at the start and were pretty happy with our top half performance!
Two days later looking back it’s something I would do again; the event was well run and the scenery was great (especially if you live in central London like me). The lessons I learned, I need to do more swim run brick sessions and more trail running ( Rav, I know you told me…….) kit wise I would get a better pull buoy mine kept falling down my leg while running so I resorted to taking it off and on at each swim which probably cost a few seconds. Then I would also practice with the hand paddles being so shoulder focused they definitely help and while I’m generally a much stronger swimmer that my brother when being able to kick. Swimming with trainers/pull bouy suited his brute force shoulder approach to swimming.
Hope that helped shed some light on a swim run race for those of you who haven’t done one!