What is SwimRun?

Swimrun is a fast growing endurance sport in which you run and swim between two predefined points along a set course of cross country runs and open water swims without stopping in between. Swimrun is quite similar to the sport aquathlon where participants undertake a swim and then transition to a run. However, in Swimrun participants switch between running and swimming many times during a single race, running in their wetsuits and swimming in their shoes.

The sport was conceived in 2006 when Ötillö (meaning ‘Island to island’) was held for the first time in Sweden. The concept of Swimrun was result of a beer fueled challenge between a group of friends – to race across the Stockholm archipelago, running over the islands and swimming between them. The race has become an annual event this year Ötillö will celebrate it’s 11th anniversary!

Swimrun is gaining momentum and there are now Swimrun races all over the world, however, only last year did the sport reach the UK,and only this year did the sport reach the USA!  Swim-Run-VA will be only the second Otillo style swimrun on the North American continent.

Is SwimRun only for elite athletes?

There are now a wide range of Swimrun competitions across the globe. ‘Ultra’ Swimruns have +50 km running and +10 km swimming, ‘Regular’ Swimruns have a total distance of between 20 – 60 km, and ‘Sprint’ Swimruns which are 20 km or less that suit beginners and Swimrunners looking for a fun training event. Each race can have varying elements such as the ratio between swimming and running distance, the type of terrain, the height gain, the number of transitions and even rules!

Is Swim-Run-VA for me?

Swim-Run-VA races are aimed at fit competitors who are looking for the next challenge.  The Richmond race course is a mid-length event and suitable for many different levels of racers.  Each racer should be very confident in open water and be able to run long distances. Swim-Run-VA will be releasing training plans to prepare for the Swim-Run-VA Richmond race.  We’ll also be holding some social Swimruns to help you train and to try out the gear.

How good at swimming do you have to be?

You do need to be a strong swimmer to take part in a Swimrun event. If you can do 2500 meters front crawl, then you’re ready for a Swimrun. The swim training is the most important training requirement for a Swimrun race and you need to be prepared with a number of long training swims of at least 3 km. You will also need open water experience which is very different to a pool environment. Water in lakes, oceans and rivers can be very cold and deep, with no lines to follow keeping you going in a straight line. The surface can get choppy which makes breathing hard and wind can make swimming very hard going if you are headed into it.  Many people are scared by the swim sections, but bear in mind that the wetsuit and the optional floating devices give you an incredible amount of buoyancy that will help you out a lot. There will be plenty of kayak support on the day to ensure your safety. If you train for endurance at the pool and get some open water experience in before hand you will have no problems.

Do I enter as a team or can I go solo?

Most SwimRun races are completed in teams of two. This is one of the unique and fun features of the sport, and during the longer races it is important for safely reasons, especially during the long and technical openwater swims. 

Do teammates have to stay together?

Teams of two must stay together for the whole race – you are a team after all! Some teams like to use a bungee tow rope which can help even out the individuals strengths allowing one person to be ‘pulled’ along and will help to keep you close during the swims, however, they are not mandatory.

How do transitions work?

At each water entry and exit there will be a race marshall and possibly a timing station. This will give us your time splits but will also help us keep track of your movements so we always know where you are for safety reasons. Teams must arrive at each transition as a pair. Teamwork is particularly important at transitions as you might need to help each other out of the water or check each others wetsuit is just the way you need it as you make your water entry.  

What equipment do I need for SwimRun?

There is a list of mandatory equipment for Swim-Run-VA races in the rules section, including wetsuits, shoes, goggles & swim caps. See our Race Rules for a list of mandatory equipment.

Swim in my shoes, run in my wetsuit… really?

During a Swimrun event you don’t change your kit like you would in a triathlon: you swim in your trainers and run in your wetsuit. This is all part of the challenge and the fun! Running in a wetsuit takes some getting used to as it feels restrictive and hot, swimming in wet shoes increases drag in the water and just feels odd. Swimrunners have come up with a number of solutions to these problems, including custom wetsuits and using pull buoys, fins and hand paddles. Check out the Otillo Swimrun site www.otilloswimrun.com to find information, tips and ideas about Swimrun wetsuits, shoes and gear.