One day, almost a year ago, I got an email from my friend, Caroline, asking if I wanted to do a race with her, the Casco Bay Swim Run in Maine. I thought, heck, why not? It will be fun to do something different, and if Pippa Middleton can do it, so can I!
As it turns out, Pippa is a total boss. She completed Ötillö (which, I learned, I have been mispronouncing for years). I am told that Casco Bay is less technical than Ötillö, and we did the short (not the long) course, so what we did wasn’t nearly as taxing. But it was challenging enough for our first swim run experience.
As one of the race directors was fond of saying, swim run is not triathlon.
There are additional things particular to swim run, but I’m sure that you get the gist.
For my two cents, these are the things that make swim run a great choice for triathletes seeking a new challenge. Especially if you’re a gear head. I spent a good deal of time researching swim run equipment, dropped some coin on a new wetsuit (front zip designed to work for running) and some sweet trail shoes (Icebug!), and DIY’ed the pull buoy modifications. And it was fun!
I’ll also note that, even as much as swim run and triathlon are different animals, my triathlon experience was key to being comfortable in truly open water. More than once during the swim segments, I was reminded of Escape from Alcatraz, where the swim course is not marked by buoys, there are strong currents, and the water is cold and wavy. I found it equally useful that I have dabbled in adventure racing, which require compass skills for orienteering. Adventure races also are less structured than triathlons in terms of the course and having experienced that before made many aspects of swim run seem more familiar.
And there you have it! Casco Bay was a fantastic course, and Maine was a beautiful and welcoming place to dip our toes into the swim run world. The four of us (my race partner and two friends who also raced) have caught the swim run bug and already are talking about returning to Casco Bay in 2018 – and doing the long course next time. Anyone who is interested should considering joining us. The more the merrier in the “island-hopping” crowd!