We asked a couple of competitors about their experience of Swimrun Coniston 2023. First up, Piers Valance and Alan Scott who were the first men’s team home in the full distance event and overall winners too, beating all the solo competitors.
Swimrun Coniston combines two favourites: the sport of swimrun and the breathtaking Lake District.
It's an action-packed day running and swimming through some of the UK's most rugged terrain while immersed in nature.
The long course race, one of three distances, begins with a 730m swim along Lake Coniston's shores, allowing teams to disperse before tackling the more technical single-track running routes. The race's first half tests participants with challenging, technical runs and refreshing lake swims, punctuated by significant hills, including a climb of nearly 250m elevation. Strategic management of effort is crucial.
Reaching the halfway mark, we caught up with middle-distance racers who had just started, injecting new energy into our challenge. This repeated when we met sprint distance participants, enhancing the day's camaraderie.
The race's latter stages delivered the quintessential Lake District experience, as rain lashed against us, simultaneously hindering and motivating us against the elements.
Completing 38.7km of running and 6.5km of swimming in 5 hours and 25 minutes, we were greeted with hot soup, a medal, and a profound sense of accomplishment. Truly epic!
For those who love the Lakes and swimrun, the choice of three distances makes the 2024 event a must!
At the other end of the scale, Rob Molloy tackled the Sprint Course as a solo entrant, and was the last man to finish. He entered the event without even really knowing what a swimrun was all about!
I started 2023 as a lapsed marathon runner needing to lose a lot of weight and get fitter. After a drastic weight loss programme I wanted to continue getting healthier so when a friend mentioned Swimrun Coniston I decided to just enter, and worry about the details later.
Fortunately my old running partner was an experienced swimrunner and she offered to help me train and understand what it was all about. Swimming was my biggest worry - I'd never swum more than 1000m before - but I also knew the longest swim was 900m on this course.
In retrospect I didn't train hard enough - at swimming or running - none of which was helped by a calf injury in the weeks before the race, but I was determined to get round the course regardless and if nothing else, it would be a nice weekend away in The Lakes.
I finished loving every part of it. The organisation was seamless, the atmosphere one of support and camaraderie, and the weather... well, it was The Lakes.
I walked far more than I would have liked, but I really didn't care - I made it. I can worry about improving it next time.
And there definitely WILL be a next time.
Images @ridgeflowmedia and @route_north on behalf of Gritty Rascals Events.