A challenging adventure, with great people and perfect organisation from the Breca SwimRun team.
I first heard about SwimRun last year when some friends of mine did the Breca Buttermere SwimRun event in the Lake District. I liked the idea of SwimRun but couldn’t quite get my head round running in a wetsuit and swimming in trainers.
However, my friend Dave Harry (who did the Buttermere event last year) managed to convince me it was a good idea. Originally we were going to do the Árainn Mhór event (near Donegal on the West coast of Ireland), but unfortunately this had to be cancelled so we switched to the Breca Jersey event instead. We don’t train together but we have done the Adidas 24 hour Thunder Run for the last few years as a team of five. We knew we would be fairly closely matched in terms of swimming and running abilities. This is crucial for a SwimRun event as you have to stay with your partner for the whole race.
So, we’d entered the race, booked our ferries/flights and also some bog-standard accommodation.
The Race Briefing.
The Friday night consisted of a race-briefing and meal at a pub function room in St Hellier. Ben de Rivaz, the Race Director at Brcea SwimRun, gave a presentation on the Jersey course. Highlighting the route, the key challenges, foods-stops etc. Ben also explained how all the logistics of getting from the start and finish would work. It was great to get an early insight into the course and it now started to get quite exciting and we were really looking forward to the event starting in the morning.
The rest of the evening was a great opportunity to meet up with other SwimRunners, most of whom hadn’t done a SwimRun event before. After some food it was back to the (very basic) hotel to sort kit and get an early night.
Race Day – My first Swimrun
We arrived nice and early, kit packed and ready to go, at the bus collection point in St Hellier. The Breca team had organised a bust to take us from St Hellier (the main tow in Jersey) to the race start at Mont Orgueil castle. We then got changed and waited for the start. It was long before we were off and descending the castle steps and heading towards our first swim.
The entry for the first swim was very well planned by the event team. It was a nice sandy beach entry so it was not an issue that the race was still fairly bunched up at this stage. From here on in the race started to thin-out quite significantly, and whilst you could see other SwimRunners, we were pretty much racing our own race now.
The eastern side of Jersey Island, due to the weather conditions on the day, was getting quite a battering from the sea. The swim to St Catherine’s breakwater was in quite challenging conditions and felt very ‘undulating’!! Although, again the race organisation was impeccable as there were ample safety boats, ribs, jet-skis, kayaks etc, so even in the challenging conditions you always felt well looked after.
Around the north-western tip of the island there were some long stretches of running along amazing coastal trails. We were then back on the beach for a challenging run against a strong head-wind along an energy sapping sandy beach.
The one-before-last swim (about 1.5km) started off OK, but soon became a bit of a struggle towards the end. My enthusiasm for swimming had really started to dwindle at this point. But we got through it, and one last short run and final short swim and we were heading up the hill/steps to finish at the Portelet Inn. We had done it. First SwimRun complete.
Again, the organisation by Breca continued to amaze me. There were temporary showers for us to use, free sports massage, and a changing marquee. It was then into the pub for prize giving, socialising and just having fun after a great day out along the coast. At the end of the night we were then taken back to St Hellier where this amazing adventure had begun all those hours before.
An absolutely amazing day, with great people, well organised, in a stunning location. What a race and what an absolute adventure.
Whilst technically this was ‘a race’, it definitely felt more like an adventure with like-minded people. Great atmosphere and spirit between all the competitors.
I loved the technical transitions between swimming and running.
Wear a SwimRun wetsuit. I used an Orca Core wetsuit, which (surprisingly) is OK to run in but also sufficiently warm for sea swimming.
A pull-buoy was definitely a worthwhile peace of kit, to give your legs a rest during the swim and also to provide extra buoyancy for swimming in your trainers.
The Breca SwimRun team were amazing. For an inaugural event their organisation and attention to detail was truly incredible. To top it all off, Ben (the Race Director) is just a thoroughly decent and likeable chap.
Of course to Dave Harry for convincing me SwimRun was a good idea. We have already entered for Breca Jersey 2017!!.
Wildman Media, the photographers were really nice guys and they took absolutely stunning photos (as you can see within this report) in very harsh conditions. They then gave us these professional quality photos for free. What more can I say – Amazing.
All the other people who provided food stations, safety cover etc to make this event the success it was