How To Swimrun – Join The Ultimate Outdoor Adventure At Glencairn Swim Run

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Running Event News, Events & Racing, MULTISPORT, Run, Sports, Training, Training "How To's"

Glencairn Farm near Underberg is amped for Glencairn Swim Run on 24-26 February, and if you don’t have plans to make your way there yet, you still have time to sign up!

But what is Glencairn Swim Run you say, and how do you do it? 

Swimrun is a relatively new endurance sport that originated in Sweden in 2006 and has since gained worldwide popularity. The sport combines open water swimming and trail running, a unique challenge for those looking for adventure in the outdoors, and in the case of Glencairn Swim Run, an epic weekend away in the southern Drakensberg less than three hours’ drive from Durban, and about six hours if you are coming from Joburg.

The Are No Transition Points At Glencairn Swim Run!
There are no transition points on a Swim Run! You go straight from the run into the water with all your gear!

Swimrun typically involves several legs of swimming followed by running, and there is no specific order of events. Swimrun races range from short, sprint-style events to longer, multi-day endurance challenges, the shorter races lasting a few hours and the longest multi-day events covering over 100 km. 

Glencairn Swim Run has two events, and they are raced as an individual rather than as a paired team, which is the more common format at Swim Run. For those who love a team vibe you can opt to be part of the ‘Unofficial Club World Champs’ for teams of five people, with times tallied for overall points. ‘The Toad’ has 20kms of running and 4 swims on day 1 (no swim at Glencairn is longer than 300m), and 15kms of running and 6 swims on day 2. ‘The Tadpole’ distances are an 8km run and 4 swim, on both days. 

No transition zones at a Swim Run

There are several tools and accessories that are allowed in swimrun, and each event may have different rules for what participants can and cannot use. A key element is the lack of transition zones like you have in triathlon – in swimrun you carry all your kit and finish in the same gear you start in. 

At Glencairn Swim Run Everyone Swim In Their Running Shoes, It Adds To The Fun Of The Event!
Everyone swims in their running shoes, it adds to the fun of the event!

Advice from a seasoned Swim Run athlete!

Here are some of the most common swimrun tools, with advice from Nats Meaker from Köshin Crossfit, who has been bringing a large crew to Glencairn since the first event in 2019:  

  1. Running shoes: Running shoes are typically required for the running portions of the race, and they should be durable and provide good grip. Nats says: “We tell our guys to wear trail shoes, the race is more run than swim, so we use no goggles or anything else. Your shoes get wet and heavy, but that is swimrun!’
  2. Wetsuits: Depending on the water temperatures, participants are sometimes required to wear wetsuits for buoyancy and warmth. “Not at Glencairn Swim Run, the days are hot and the water is refreshing, so we don’t think it’s cold enough for a wetsuit,” says Nats.
  3. Swim caps: Swim caps are often required for identification purposes, and to reduce drag in the water, but at Glencairn Swim Run the vibe is casual and caps are not required kit. Only the competitive athletes use one. 
  4. Buoyancy aids: Buoyancy aids are often allowed and can help participants stay afloat during the swim portions of the race, which can help when you have wet shoes dragging you down.
  5. Hand paddles: Hand paddles can be used to provide extra propulsion in the water and help conserve energy.
  6. Hydration packs: Hydration packs are often required for longer races, as participants need to carry water and food with them. At Glencairn Swim Run this is optional.

Swimrun is accessible to people of all levels and at Glencairn the emphasis is on fun and adventure, and the scenery is spectacular. Hardcore athletes are also welcome to battle it out or to use the event for some serious training.

Glencairn Swim Run Is All About The Vibe And Having A Good Time!
Glencairn Swim Run is all about the vibe and having a good time!

“We use this event to test our fitness and it unlocks new fitness levels,” says Nats. “We do it for fun so we don’t use paddles or floats. It is a ton of fun and an epic weekend away, with an active morning adventure each day, and then we chill playing cards on the grass, swim in the dams and play frisbee and other games.” 

Arrive on Friday evening to get into the vibe and prep for your first day of swimrun on Saturday morning. Check out Glencairn Swim Run’s website for details and to enter.

Event Coverage