Swim a little, run a little – or make that a lot – as you navigate unbeaten paths, choppy water and extreme temperature transitions with a magnificent landscape as the backdrop. This is new sports trend from Scandinavia that is set to go big around the world.
There’s no such thing as an indoor Swimrun: Natural courses span through forests, across rivers and over islands – basically, anywhere that’s off-the-beaten path.
Swimrunners race in teams of two, and because the courses are so hardcore, a minimum age of 18 is required for most competitions.
From start to finish, teams bring their equipment, which includes wetsuits to keep them insulated, for northern waters are frequently as cold as 10°C even on the hottest days.
Water and food checkpoints are positioned throughout the course, and swimrunners are expected to stick to the marked plan.
Medical staff is on hand, surveying the athletes from boats and on the trails in case of an emergency.
The simple blend of trail running and open water swimming got started in Sweden, where extreme sports enthusiasts and a rocky, ragged archipelago gave way to ÖTILLÖ, the original Swimrun race that later became the Swimrun World Championship.
At ÖTILLÖ, teams skim a total of 26 islands off the coast of Stockholm, covering a total distance of 75km, 10 of which are crossed by sea.
They make a total of 52 transitions, hopping in and out of the water and sprinting across the islands, according to the event’s website.
Swims range in length between 100m and 1.780km and runs are between 70m and 19.700km, according to event organisers.
The dawn-to-dusk race was conceived in 2002 by Anders Malm of Utö, Sweden, and his colleagues when they challenged each other to a casual version of the race in which the last team to hit a predetermined restaurant had to pay for what the teams that arrived before them had ordered.
Known as the founders of Swimrun, Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott commercialised the sport in 2006 and the trend started its own journey across Scandinavia.
As word of the trend spread, spinoff races started cropping up along ragged coastlines including the Norwegian fjords, drawing an increasingly international crowd each time.
The Swimrun World Championship will celebrate its 10th anniversary on September 7, 2015 where 120 qualifying teams – the best of the waiting list of 550 – will sweat and shiver it out for what is becoming renowned as one of the toughest races in the world.
The final list of participants represents more than 23 nationalities and an Alpine version of the sport is hitting the mountains. – AFP Relaxnews