We caught up with event organiser Gary Pavitt to find out more
Swimrun Coniston took place on Sunday 24 September 2023. The event was originally created by Breca Swimrun, was put on hold during the pandemic, revived in sprint format in 2021, and then thought lost when Breca stopped trading. However, swimrun enthusiast Gary Pavitt had other ideas and set about reviving the event through his company, Gritty Rascals Events.
The new version offers three distances of 45, 21.1 and 12.7km, and allows both solo competitors and teams to take part. The long-distance participants start first, while those in the shorter distance filter in further along the course, with everyone finishing in the same place.
Things went pretty well, said Mr Pavitt, who was really pleased how the event turned out. However, it didn’t go completely to plan. In particular, the weather posed some challenges – or to use Mr Pavitt’s word, the weather was “rubbish”. Although it was calm with good visibility at the beginning of the day, it got progressively worse, with rain and increasingly tough squally showers. While this didn’t cause athletes any issues on the course (all athletes were wearing wetsuits after all, and only two out of the entire field failed to finish), fewer people hung around for prize giving or to socialise at the finish and everything was completely soaked when packing the event infrastructure.
The full distance course had 38.7km of running, 6.5km of swimming and 18 transitions. The range in finishing times was from around 5.5 hours to almost 10 hours while the short course took between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.
“The thing I found most interesting,” says Mr Pavitt, “was the diversity in the community. At the front, you had hard-core racers, but many of the participants simply wanted the experience without too much hard running. In fact, many of them did a lot of walking.”
Mr Pavitt also saw that many of the participants already knew each other. “One of the nice things about organising an event is that you become part of facilitating a community. It was also great to have so much feedback thanking us for recreating the event.”
Any final thoughts from the organiser?
“I’m hugely grateful to Tweedies Bar who hosted us and of course the marshals and volunteers who spent the day standing around in the wind and rain, they probably got colder than the athletes who were at least wearing wetsuits and moving. They did an amazing job and these events couldn’t go ahead without them.”
Images from @ridgeflowmedia and @route_north on behalf of Gritty Rascals Events.