Race Report :: Lee Gladwell :: Costa Brava SwimRun April ’18

Lee Gladwell and Andy Barwise AKA Team GingerLee

Like most good things in life it all started with a beer! Whilst celebrating our Coniston race with a curry and a beer, talk obviously got round to “so what shall we do next?”. How about a nice European race in the sun? We can make a nice long weekend out of it? The other halves will love it………to cut a long story short by the end of the evening we were doing SwimRun Costa Brava and we were definitely going to win it (quite a lot of beer had been drunk by this point!!!)

Fast forward 6 months and we were on top of a hill, in an ancient castle at the start line in Begur, wondering yet again why we hadn’t done any training and desperately trying to find a pair we thought we could beat (we couldn’t). Injuries and life had really got in the way of this one and my longest run was only 9 miles and my 2km morning swims started feeling woefully inadequate.

With an advertised 36km of running with 25 swims totalling 8.5km ahead of us, it was going to be a long day. We assumed our usual starting position at the back, just in case the Swedish Special Forces team decided to kill us with one steely look, and the starting horn sounded. Cue a 3.5km stampede down to the first swim 250m below us. We were told in the race briefing (in between beers) that the first half of the race was “testing”. This proved to be quite accurate if you consider death defying drops, ridiculous rock climbing and hair raising rope aided descents “testing”.

The longest run was 5.2km and this took us nearly 1hr 30min, which might tell you how testing it was!!!! Still, the scenery was spectacular, the swims at this point were quite sheltered and most importantly we weren’t last and were having that stupid type of masochistic fun! As we slowly worked our way along the coast the wind picked up and the swims became more and more exposed. It was at this point my lack of swim fitness started to show and I was massively regretting not bringing the tether we have used in the past. The head wind had caused a slow river effect to the water and this, coupled with the chop meant I was starting to struggle. Andy tried his best to swim slow enough to give me a drag but even his old lady side stroke was proving an issue to follow.

There were less hills in the second half and we could finally get some run/shuffle miles in between the numerous swims but it was definitely getting tough. It finally got to the stage where we were pitifully asking marshalls “how far it was to the end?” “Just 2 km and 2 swims left” was one response we heard with relief.

A soul destroying 5km and 8 swims later, we finally got to the last beach where Tori and Lisa were waiting for us, they seemed slightly concerned by our red faces and inability to raise our feet more than an inch off the floor!!!. They sprinted off to the finish line as we “only” had one swim to go, which Andy had assured me was just a 200m out and back before the 500m run to the finish line. As we turned the corner and saw it was about 700m into the current and waves, I had a sense of humour failure and seriously wondered if I could do it and whether it would be cheating to get into the shallower water and just pretend I was swimming as I walked along the sea bed.

I took my man up pills, followed the slowly drowning Andy and with a large amount of relief, swearing and even a little tear managed to get through it and after a short run through the streets, Team GingerLee made it to the finish line in 9hrs 53min and in 38th place. Reading some reports from others participant’s, the swim totalled about 10km in the end and there was over 2400m of climbing on the run (we must read these things before signing up).

The 2 burgers on the way back to the hotel was the start of an enjoyable recovery period in the sun that made the race even more special. Anyway, if you’ve made it this far without falling asleep, DO A SWIMRUN!!!! They’re amazing events, tough, hard, soul searching but ultimately wholly rewarding.

Just do some training beforehand !!!!!!!!!!!!

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