Hobbits and Humdingers

There's been a bit going on since my last update. I'm sure I haven't got everything, but here goes:-

When Paul lost his partner for the Gower Swimrun event due to injury, he thought his chances of competing had gone. Little did he know it would open up a 'Buy One Get One Free' opportunity! He tells the tale below:

Swimrun started in Sweden and came to the UK two years ago when 12 teams of 2 people competed in the inaugural Breca Buttermere. The race is around 45km long with 9 swims ranging from 400m to 1km each. You have to carry everything with you so NO transition as such, you run in your wet suit and swim in your running shoes.

Two years later and the Buttermere entry had grown to over 150 teams, which demonstrates how popular the format is becoming. It is particularly extreme as unlike a lot of the courses you have to cross the fells to get to the different lakes so it included a challenging 5,700 ft of climb in the event.

Ade and I entered the Breca Gower (19th August) but unfortunately Ade had to withdraw due to illness so I was put in contact with Craig Miskin and agreed to do Buttermere with him and he would do the Gower with me (yes I am doing it twice). So on the day I met with two of Craig’s friends at the start and I will say I never considered myself as small but against these three I felt like a hobbit

Once under way we had sun, wind, rain the lot. The second swim had breaking waves and resembled more of a sea swim as opposed to a lake. At about 10km after a couple of swims and on a very rocky path, my partner Craig tripped and fell down several feet on to rocks. With cuts on both knees, hands and his left arm and in a lot of pain we had to stop for almost 30 mins for him to recover, At this stage, covered in mud and blood (if you ever bleed when wet it looks 100 times worse) and as the field came past us we suspected a broken arm and thought it was game over. After 20 or so minutes the feeling started to come back to his arm and we walked to the next lake, the medical team had been called and were on the other side of the 400m swim. To my surprise he swam across to the medics, when we emerged with all of the dirt and blood gone we could see a very nasty lump and graze of his left arm but the cold water swim had helped.

Craig decided to continue and we put my left removable wetsuit sleeve over his wound as a compress and left the checkpoint in what must have been close to the back of the field.

We swam, we climbed mountains in heat, we descended trails fit for goats (with special care now) and gradually clawed our way back up through the field. On the biggest fell at about ¾ distance we were chasing the last checkpoint cut off and got in with about 30 mins to spare, and so completed our first swim run finishing in just over 9 hours in provisional 74th position.

The format is superb, running and swimming in some of the most awesome terrain in a team gives you something unique, Just when you are getting hot and the legs are getting tired you get to throw yourself into a lake swim, just as your arms start to ache and the cold water cool you down you haul yourself out and start running again, it is simply an event that is both stunning and brutal.

Next it's Gower in three weeks for a rerun, and I still have Ade to do one maybe next year, but this is one guy who is hooked on the format and would recommend it as a challenge to everyone.

Anne, Jennie, Gwyn, Paul and Karl all took part in the Humdinger Endurance swim which involved completing as many 1k laps as possible in six hours. Gwyn opted for going solo and completed 13 laps in the time available and finish 22nd. Paul & Karl, competing as a team completed 24 laps to finish 3rd while Anne and Jennie managed 15 to finish 25th.

Kate took first female and 8th overall in the Cheltenham 'Tri in the Park' Super Sprint with Russ finishing just over a minute behind to seal 12th overall.

Ruth had a great result in the Castle Howard Tri, finishing in 2:46 to come second in her age group. The prize of a bobble hat was a little unusual in the hight of summer; however it may come in useful for her anticipated trip to Estonia later in the year!

Meanwhile there was a bumper turnout from TTC at the Droitwich Sprint Tri with us not only providing a dozen entrants but also PJ and Caroline as marshals. The day's honours went to Gwyn who finished 17th overall and 2nd vet in 1:05 and Helen racing in her COLT kit who finished in 1:13 to take 2nd female vet. Tom continued his improvement finishing in 1:09 followed by Jill and Tony in 1:20, Anne, Dan and Mark (1:21), Jo in 1:23, Terry and Julia in 1:28 and Jennie in 1:30. If I learned one valuable lesson it was to keep your head up and follow the signs on the bike course. It's all well and good getting your average bike speed up but adding an extra half a mile onto a sprint course is never going to help!

Finally, don't forget, if you want to see your achievements up in lights, let me know what you've been up to. There's so much on at this time of year its difficult to pick up all the results so let me know on Terry.Ballard293@gmail.com or via Facebook.

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