Sunday 26 September 2021

Photo of the day - 26: Final SwimRun of the year, at Bewl Water


Exiting the water after the first of six swims

The second part of my final weekend of multi-sport races for this year was the As Keen As Mustard SwimRun at Bewl Water, near Tunbridge Wells. There was a choice of three distances - a 5km, 10km, or 21km. I chose to do the middle option, which consists of a total of 1800m swim split over six swims and interspersed with seven runs which totalled 8.2km.

Nowadays I feel comfortable with the swim, especially after all the training I've done and having swum two miles in the Serpentine last week. The run was something to just get around, because I haven't done a lot of training due to me trying to learn to run in minimalist shoes. Because I haven't fully mastered that, I have to take it easy during the SwimRun races to avoid injury as I am running without my usual orthotics - something I wouldn't advise if you're jumping in and out of the water!

It was a very pleasant event, running around the woodland and country trails and then at intervals wading into the water to swim, getting out and running again. I ended up right at the back during the first run as I stopped to properly tie my shoe laces and adjust my pull buoy. But I managed to catch a few women, and we formed a little group at the back. I gnerally feel quite relaxed in these events because they usually start with a run, and by the time you reach the water you have warmed up a bit and so when you get in the water it's quite refreshing. There's no need to take time acclimatising or warming up; you just get on with it. When swimming you need to keep your eye on where you're meant to be going as there aren't any buoys in the water. There's just a flag and a marshal at the other end of the lake, so it's up to you to pick the shortest line. Be mindful that the swimmer in front of you may not be very good at sighting, so it's always good to check for yourself where you're going. I finished fifth from the back, but it was nice to see the women at the finish line, and we congratulated each other as well as talking about our exploits during the race.

I do like these events. There's no argy bargy in the water and people do them at various paces - some people are competitive, especially those intent on qualifying for the major events in Sweden. But then there are other folks who tootle round. I'd say SwimRun is in the same vein as orienteering, where some people are mighty fast and then others just trot round and enjoy the scenery. But whichever level you are everyone feels like they've had a workout and there's a friendly atmosphere. I look forward to doing more of these events next year.

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