Last weekend, my dad and I took on the ambitious Great North SwimRun up at Windermere. Organised by Great Run, it was the UK’s inaugural event of its kind, inspired by similar events in Sweden. Sure, there are loads of triathlons and duathlons, but SwimRun is different. It’s literally run, swim, run, swim…and no changing of clothes. So you run in your wetsuit and you swim in your trainers! Told you it was ambitious!
I was lucky enough to be involved in this exciting inaugural event as part of my Great Run and Great Swim ambassadorship but I can’t say I’ve ever done anything quite like it before. I’ve barely even done much open water swimming in a wetsuit so that alone was new, let alone running in one too! As beginners I made the executive decision to go with the shortest event distance: 10km, with an 8.1km total running distance, and a 1.9km swim. I’m not gonna lie, that definitely sounded totally manageable when I eagerly signed up. I’ve just trained for 2 marathons so I felt sure I could do 8km running (even in an wetsuit) and having swam 2km straight in Charlton Lido before, was quietly confident I could do the broken up distance swim. In reality though, it was tough! Definitely tougher than I’d imagined! Swimming in trainers is no easy feat, you feel like you’re going backwards! And for someone who gets super hot, super fast running, a wetsuit is not the outfit of choice!
That said, the whole experience was amazing. SO fun and so rewarding!! Despite the drizzly weather, we had the best, best time. You just have to go for it! The runs were pretty leisurely in terms of pace, but challenging due to their cross-country terrain! As for the swims, I felt like the rain helped ease us in as we were already pretty soggy, but no kidding, that water was cold. Cold and choppy! We just took it slow, me doing breaststroke the whole way because hey, you don't have to do crawl to be an open water swimmer you know 😉 PLUS, doing breaststroke, your head's out the water so you actually get to enjoy the scenery too...!
Not going to lie, I was happy to swim under that finish line after the last 800m leg in the water but as soon as I got out, I was kind of wishing I could do it all over again! We warmed up with free noodles (very effective for warming you up!) and dried out whilst watching others finish their swims. With so many different events on, plus SwimRun now too, Great North Swim is such a brilliant weekend to be part of, with loads going on, a lively atmosphere and friendly crowd. Definitely try to get involved next year — whether it's just swimming or SwimRun, I guarantee you'll have a blast!