36km running. 6km swimming. 16 transitions. Sounds fun…

Every triathlon I enter follows the same pattern. Not too shabby a start on the swim (normally in the first 10% of people out the water), sit back and watch all the aero-helmets blast past me on the bike, and then pick off a few people on the run to finish somewhat respectably. So a race consisting purely of swimming and running would obviously be more up my street. The one aquathlon I’ve completed gave me my most respectable race finish to date. But surely there’s something out there with a bit more, you know, punishment?

That’s where Breca comes in. Starting in 2002 when two teams challenged each other to run and swim 75km over 26 islands in the Stockholm archipelago (the last team had to drink and pay for the rounds at the bars lining the route), swimrun was born. Events take place on trail and in open water; teams race in pairs wearing a wetsuit and trainers, transitioning seamlessly between running stages and swimming stages. I’d already scouted out events the Lake District and Jersey, but finding the time (and a lunatic partner) was a bit more difficult. Entry was looking a long-shot, at least until I got home.

But then I found out Breca would be staging their first ever New Zealand event in March 2017 at the beautiful Lake Wanaka in New Zealand’s south island. When it’s in a place that looks like this, you can’t really say no…

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Next to find a partner. That conundrum was solved at the Auckland Marathon, when I got chatting to a British doctor coming off the harbour bridge and spent the next 20km running together.

So what of the race itself? Well, the actual course is still a tightly guarded secret. But it will involve 36km of trail running (definitely with some big hills) and 6km of open water swimming, along with 16 transitions between the two.

What about the kit? With all those transitions, it means you keep your wetsuit on, but there will be a few modifications taking place. First, I’ll cut my suit off at the knees to make the running easier. Next, I’ll get a float attached around the waist to make up for the loss of buoyancy. I’ll drill holes in the bottom of my trust Salomon’s so they drain quicker. And then I’ll find some hand paddles, because those are allowed!

And how am I going to train for such an event? Well, it’s never been my strong point, so I guess I’ll just make it up as I go along! Four months and counting…

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