The home of swimrun is Sweden, like the home of Ironman is Hawaii. It’s hard to talk about swimrun without mentioning the original 75km Ötillö – meaning island to island – challenge across the Stockholm Archipelago that is now the sport’s world championship and most prestigious event.
See, I’ve just done it.
But what of swimrun in the UK? Ötillö, as a brand, has created events across Europe but only one in England: Ötillö Swimrun Isles of Scilly. However, that event will not take place in 2023.
The next best known brand in swimrun, after Ötillö, was probably Breca Swimrun, who put on events in England, Scotland, Wales and Jersey. Sadly, Breca were unable to recover from the financial strain of the pandemic, did not put on any UK events in 2022, and went into liquidation in December that year.
So where does that leave UK-based swimrunners in 2023?
The good news is that a handful of enthusiastic event organisers have kept the sport of swimrun alive and in a position to thrive. We’ve counted 21 races scheduled for 2023 ranging from short introductory events to challenges in excess of marathon distance that will take even elite athletes more than five hours to complete. There’s even a revival of a couple of Breca’s old events under new management. Let’s take a look at some of those organisers.
Run Surrey Hills
Headed up by trail running and open water swimming coach Jude Palmer, Run Surrey Hills will host a series of four short swimrun events aimed at novices or more experienced racers looking for a training event. Choose between around 2km or 5km and take part solo or in a pair at four locations in the southeast.
Mad Hatter Events
Billing themselves as “friendly, always fun, often mad,” Mad Hatter run three swimrun events in beautiful parts of Cornwall including the daunting Hokey Cokey Roseland, which this year is a designated Ötillö merit race, the only one in the UK.
Better known for the Great North Swim in Windermere, Great Swim also put on three scenic swimrun events at the same time, with both the middle and endurance distance races including a full width of lake crossing. Unusually, these events finish with a swim.
As Keen As Mustard
For fun and friendly swimrun events in the east and south east of England, check out As Keen As Mustard, with four races scheduled for 2023, including the lovely Bewl Water Swimrun. This circular course with lake swimming is challenging, but less daunting than some events with sea swims.
Love SwimRun host two events in North Wales, in Llanberis and Holy Island. However, only the Llanberis event is going ahead in 2023. There is a choice between the sprint course, of approximately 6km, and the full course over 16km. It would be possible to do Love SwimRun Llanberis on 17 June and WeSwimRun’s Tal Y Llyn Swimrun on the 18 June (see below).
Also in North Wales, WeSwimRun offers swims, runs and swimruns. In September, they host the 18km Dyfi Swimrun with trail running along the Wales Coast Path while on 18 June, there’s the shorter but no less beautiful 12km Tal Y Llyn Swimrun. Do it the day after Love SwimRun’s Llanberis event for a superb weekend in Wales.
Clevedon Open Water
This community group operates out of Clevedon Marine Lake and puts any funds raised from events back into the seafront and other local community groups. Their swimrun on 8 July consists of five short runs and four 250m swims across the lake.
Activity Wales Events
Activity Wales run a series of endurance events in South Wales including the Swansea Swim, the Long Course Weekend, the Mumbles Triathlon and the Wales Swimrun. The latter, which takes place on 22 July in Freshwater East offers a sprint with 14km of running and 4.7km of swimming or the full distance of 26km running and 7km of swimming.
As far as we know, this is the only swimrun in Scotland, and takes place in East Lothian alongside an aquathlon, a sea swim and a beach run. The swimrun has 9 sections, 14.5km of running, 4km of swimming and a brutal 187m climb to finish you off.
Swimrun Jersey, originally a Breca event, has been revived by 3D Events and follows much the same course as the original. There are now three distances on offer: the short 4k “Experience” course, for solo entries only; the 20km “Sprint” course for solos or pairs; and the 53km “Full” course for teams only.
Mostly organising swim events on the mid Thames, Swim Oxford also host a swimrun with a surprisingly hilly run section. All swims are downstream so you may get a little current assistance but the best reason to do this event is for the post-race cakes.
Gritty Rascals Events
Gritty Rascals Events has taken on the mantel of Swimrun Coniston, an event originally created by Breca and with a reputation as a challenging but stunningly beautiful race. The full course covers 45km, takes you through four lakes and includes over 1,000m of climbing. This will be tough. The shorter course is ‘only’ 21km.
For a list of swimrun events in the UK and beyond, see our swimrunner event listings.