Swimrun is a pretty new sport to the UK. Inspired by the scandinavians and the famous Otillo race.
Loch Gu Loch was set in the hIghlands and included 2 swims across the very dark, deep, cold Loch Ness.
This was a really tough event but equally rewarding. The highlands are breathtaking and if you get the opportunity to visit, do.
This was the first time this event had been run so there was a sense of nervousness from everyone, including the organisers. The tension in the air was palpable during th
e tour boat ride from Fort Augustus back up the Loch to Castle Urquhart which seemed to take forever.
It’s fair to say we were a little apprehensive going in, mainly around the first long swim across the cold depths of Loch Ness. We had no idea what the temperature would be like, if we had the right kit, if we were fit enough, would there be a monster, etc.
I’m still not quite sure how we did that swim in 39 minutes. I guess a combination of adrenalin, nervous energy and not wanting to get too cold. We gave each other a big hug on the shore before stumbling out of the water to try and warm up on the run.
Things got better and worse from there. The scenery was incredible. At one point I realised I was using a scottish mountain as a sighting point which certainly beats the tower at Shoreham power station. Some of the higher lochs were colder than Loch Ness as a result of some of the hydro electric schemes that move water around but I came to really look forward to the swim sections which wasn’t the way I thought things would pan out. With two boggy exceptions, the water was clean, clear and cold.
I think we did well on the swims because we stuck together. There’s no point one of you blasting off only to then wait for the other. The tow rope meant I could swim and not have to worry that Kat was off track or falling behind and Kat was able to draft behind me for long sections.
The trail runs were where things got tough for me. I don’t have a lot of miles in my legs and some of the trail sections were hard going. A mix of road, track, quad track and no track – just heather and bracken. After 9 hours, Kat was just warming up and I was desperately trying to hold onto her.
Getting to the final 1km swim back across the Loch was a huge relief. Half way across, I noticed another team were close behind us and our ‘let’s just take it easy and get it done’ strategy went out of the window. I swam hard to put some distance between us.
The final steps up to the finish line at Fort Augustus were agony but like always, it was outweighed by the happiness (relief) of finishing.
Going in, I remember saying that this was like a Triathlon without the fun bit (cycling) but, actually, I really enjoyed it and I will probably be back for more next year.
For kit we used the Zone3 Evolution Swim run suits which were excellent. We both wore trail shoes and trail socks that wouldn’t soak up too much water. Under the suit we went with Tri Suits and short sleeve base layers. Anything more and I think we would have overheated on the runs. The tow belts with pull buoys attached were invaluable. We used Speedo hand paddles and ran with 500ml Salomon soft flasks in the large pockets the Evolution suit provides. Quite a few people went with Chill swim dry bags rather than carrying gear in their suit. Some went with Camelback style rucksacks but I found that caused lots of drag in the water when I tried it.