What to Expect At Your First Swimrun Race

The beauty of your first Swimrun race is you should go in with zero expectations—and that’s exactly what we all need right now.

Photo: Aaron Palaian/ Swimrun USA

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In this monthly Swimrun column, Chris Douglas and Chipper Nicodemus, a Swimrun team out of Northern California and hosts of the Low Tide Boyz – A Swimrun Podcast, answer all of your Swimrun questions. This month, the Boyz share what athletes can expect at a Swimrun race now that events are starting to come back.

Since we know you’ve been reading all of our columns over the last four months, then we know that pretty much everything you’ve read has helped you get ready for a fun Swimrun race—that is, whenever there are races. Well, Swimrun races are back, at least in Texas. In this month’s column, we’re going to talk about what you can expect from your first Swimrun race.

Ödyssey Swimrun is hosting a race in Austin, Texas on Nov. 8 and it’s pretty certain to happen. Probably. While COVID-19 is definitely not in our collective rear-view mirror yet, the Odyssey Swimrun crew have been working hard to put on a race experience that will be as safe as possible for all participants, including a time trial-style rolling start rather than a mass start, and social distancing on the course whenever possible. We are super stoked for this race and if you want to learn more about the Austin event, check out our comprehensive Odyssey Swimrun Austin Course Preview episode.

Now that we’ve got the gears moving in your head about the possibility of racing, it would be a good time to share what racers can expect from a Swimrun event. The first thing to expect is that there should be zero expectations—and we think that’s exactly what we all need right now. The excitement of racing on a new course will give you and, hopefully, your Swimrun partner an injection of adventure and a dose of fun that we have all been missing in 2020. The best part is that if you’ve been keeping up with any swimming and running frequency during COVID, then chances are you are fit enough to take on a short- or long-course distance.

Expect an Ambiguous Adventure of Unspecified Duration

Unlike triathlons which typically have set distances, every Swimrun event is unique and takes into account what the natural race location provides. Some races lean more “swim heavy” with epic open water swims. Other races are more “run heavy” with long running sections on all kinds of terrain. Given this variety, it’s important for athletes to embrace the adventure and try to not worry about what your typical race pace would or should be. Our best advice would be things like: try to swim straight and, um, don’t get lost. In our experience, it’s best to have a rough idea of how long an event could take you and your partner, but know that it could take less or more time and be fine with that ambiguity.

Expect an Event for Beginners and Experienced Athletes Alike

One of our favorite features about Swimrun is that whether you’re a pro athlete or rocking righteous dad-bods (like us), these courses are a physical and mental test for everyone. We have yet to experience an “easy” Swimrun course and, frankly, we don’t think they exist. That being said, with adequate training anyone can participate in these events, have a great time, and feel a huge sense of accomplishment at the finish line. The only difference is that experienced athletes tend to get to the finish line sooner.

Enjoy the Bikeless Travel Bliss

Imagine traveling to a destination race and not having to pay extra for oversize luggage, worrying about airlines mishandling or losing (oh, the horror!) your 18-pound carbon fiber baby, or assembling your bike in a random hotel room while trying not to get grease on the curtains. Is that something we might be able to interest you in? We’ve heard from so many triathletes about how great it was to travel to a race and not have all the gear to worry about. Even though Swimrun is in its own mini arms race in gear development, all your gear takes no more than a small duffel bag’s worth of space. It’s life-changing, at least it was for us. (Check out our previous column on Swimrun gear if you want to geek out on the latest arms race.)

Expect a Healthy Dose of that Swimrun Magic

We can pretty much guarantee that if you’re adequately trained for your first race, you will embrace the magic that has spurred on the growth of the sport. Guest after guest on our podcast have mentioned the amazing sense of adventure that Swimrun provides and how it’s a novel way to experience nature. There’s just something special about doing a race where you run into a body of water and transition to a swim in one movement and just keep going. We’re so certain of this magic, that we’re sure you’ll be looking for your next Swimrun adventure after you cross that finish line.

That’s it. Reach out to us with any burning Swimrun questions that you’d like to see answered (and if you want a discount code for Odyssey Swimrun Austin). Now that races are starting to come back, there’s never been a better time to go for a swim with shoes on followed by a run in your wetsuit and repeat.

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