Fusion Triathlon Club Head Coach John Dargie was Runner Up at 2015 Swim Run UK Championships with his team mate Crawford Whyte. Here’s John’s review of Inch By Inch 2015.
“11 days have passed but I can’t stop thinking about Inch by Inch – it’s almost become minute by minute!!
Quite possibly because it’s taken that long for the pain to dissipate!! But more likely because for the first time in a while I got to personally take part in and enjoyed something epic. There are multisport events everywhere these days in all sorts of shapes and forms, I’m familiar with them all as it’s my job to help folk achieve their goals. But my own participation has slipped and nothing excited me. I needed something different so plumped for a change for the norm.
– different format
– no bike (my strength)
– both my athletic nemesis’s in large quantity
– little fancy kit required so a level playing field
– technology toys such as garmins are no use so the event is pure
– 100% you and your team mates mental and physical abilities.
So I entered with good friend/ business partner Crawford Whyte – effectively for a laugh (OK – he wanted to win). For 9 weeks December – February I swam 3 times and ran 3 times per week. Then life threw me a curveball that dragged me away from training. Time ticked by I did one triathlon badly in May, long standing back issue stopped me training at all for 9 weeks and suddenly there were 8 weeks to go, I had a new business to Launch, 6kg to shift etc etc. Things got serious – I pushed training hard to average of 1.4 runs and 1.6 swims per week! built long run to 65 mins on tarmac. Reports of the eventual winners Ewan Mulhern and David Ogg weekly trail runs / weekend swim run practices only increased Crawfords chat of needing to win – my mojo dropped a little further.
This was not optimal. 1 week to go and I ran hilly off road and had to stop after less than an hour with niggles. I was having a proper rubbish week. We did our race planning on the Tuesday before such was our disorganisation and then the Thursday before decided we should cut wetsuits and have a swim and run in the kit. we did about an hour, shrugged and reckoned we were as ready as could be. Crawford was still chatting about winning – I was worried about finishing the first run!
But things changed Friday – the weather was good, water was warmer than expected and then it all clicked at race briefing. Cruising round Loch Lomond on a boat looking at the course was an outstanding idea. Suddenly the realisation that we all had similar sanity issues and were therefore friends created a lovely atmosphere.
Race Saturday I won’t forget for a long time. It’s the only race car park i’ve been in with positive energy, banter and help between ALL parties. It almost wasn’t a race such was the camaraderie. I don’t know what to say about the race itself. It’s a hard event for sure, very hard, and you need to train. Surviving off a 20 yrs ago sports pedigree is risky in the extreme. The course was perfect – challenging with long swims, short swims, mixed terrain, stunning scenery, amazing marshalls, great organisation. Conic hill is proper tough and worthy of any extreme event. There’s lots of time to think in such an event so here’s a few thoughts that occurred (usually multiple times and confirmation of my sanity issues possibly):
– 6 mins into race – bye bye David and Ewan – you’re going to win (they did).
8 mins into race – those other two teams have gone off too fast (turns out they did)
– Crawford is faster than me, better try and keep up.
– swim rhythm strategy count to 100 breaths and repeat, sighting every 10.
– I’m about to cramp here, there and everywhere.
– I can’t go this fast for 2 hrs let alone 6.
– better swim rhythm strategy – Thor and Fergus, Thor and Fergus, Thor and Fergus, every single stroke.
– flat coke is amazing
– i’m tired of chasing crawfords feet / back!!
– is my team mate supposed to always be in front of me dragging me along.
– I don’t care about other teams , just want to do my thing.
– I want to catch those other two teams.
– Goodness we are good at the navigating and transitions
– why is 7 min km’s absolutely max flat out effort?
– how can Kay McWilliam be so cheerful ALL the time
– Alan Anderson is a very very evil man.
– that Martin Jones boy can swim. I’m glad he hates running as much as me!!
– I need flat coke – lots of it.
– Those Hamilton boys should have stopped at the aid station (they really, really should have stopped!!)
– I need more flat coke.
– swimming in run shoes sucks big time.
All in all it was epic – being involved in a 3 hr, 3 way battle for the podium was unexpected but reignited my competitive spirit. Crawford was a great team mate and got the best out of me (he was probably the fastest guy in the race). I’ve never pushed quite so hard for so long. Teams were chatting, encouraging and high fiving each other and yet still racing – that was a lovely thing to be a part of. Scotland was at it’s best and that’s hard to beat. Alan Anderson worked his ass off to do something different / special and it was. Thankyou to the marshalls and everyone else involved. Now and again you get to feel truly alive and this did it for me.
I will be back. I may even train for it.
Inch by Inch 2016 – BE THERE.”
Below is an article from Tiso Blog
“Scotland’s first SwimRun race, Inch by Inch, took pace at Loch Lomond last weekend and later this month another inaugural SwimRun will be staged at Loch Ness, called Loch Gu Loch.
Across Europe the number of these races, which feature multiple open water swimming and off-road running sections, have been fast increasing with some 60 now open to experienced and daring athletes.
It all started with the Sweden ÖTILLÖ, almost a decade ago. Ötillö means “island-to-island” and it sees athletes travel 24 islands on the Stockhom archipelago by running across them and swimming between them.
The total distance of the Swedish event is 75km of which 10km is open water swimming and 65km is trail running. Athletes must race in pairs.
The Ötillö is acclaimed as one of the world’s toughest endurance races.
Loch Lomond Inch by Inch
On Saturday, Alan Anderson, the organiser of many new sporting events in Scotland, launched the first Scottish SwimRun race. The race was in fact the brainchild of Nick Green (see his blog post) who came up with the concept after reading about the Ötillö and during a walk on the hills above Loch Lomond. A whisky fuelled chat led to Alan’s well-organised Inch by Inch event.
Fortunately, the race day turned out to be sunny and calm and 57 competitors (pairs and one triple) raced through 10 Swims totalling around 8km and 10 Run sections totalling around 25km. The island names all start with the name “Inch”, hence the title of the event.
Glasgow’s David Ogg and Ewan Mulhern were the 2015 SwimRun UK champions. They completed the course in 5hrs 23 mins. The mixed team winners were Gemma and Chris Scott, of Derbyshire. Female team winners were East coasters Louise Smith and Penny Rother.
Winners of the first Scottish SwimRun
David Ogg, of Lochwinnoch, entered the event because “it seemed like something very different and that appealed to me”.
He added: “I come from a triathlon background and really enjoyed the format of open water swimming and trail running.
“I haven’t been training specifically for any events this year – I have a busy work and family life with a young child and another on the way – and I liked the idea of an event that was challenging and new.”
Ewan, of Glasgow, added: “Before entering the event I thought the setting was great and the concept was interesting. I have raced at a fairly high level of triathlon but I like to try new things.
“Honestly, we didn’t expect to win but I think our consistency in both the swimming and running, as well as out experience at multi-discipline events, really helped us.”
David reveals that the toughest sections of the race were Inchlonaig island and Conic Hill. He says: “That island was very rocky and rough and we ended up running along the shoreline and even swimming section of the run.
“Conic Hill was steep and hot. You swim in your trainers and run in your wetsuit so on a warm day it can feel sweltering in a wetsuit when climbing up a hill. We ended up peeling the wetsuits down to our waists.”
There are various rules of SwimRun events. Athletes are required to wear wetsuits and carry mandatory kit in a dry bag as they race.
A floatation aid, such as a pull buoy, is usually required/allowed, as are paddles for the hands.
Most swimmers also wear their running footwear in the water for speedier transitions and the wetsuit – cut off at the arms and knees in warmer weather – is worn for the runs.
Ewan says: “Having a pull buoy attached to your leg makes running tricky. We both ended up with one sore leg. I think there are other, smarter, ways to carry a pull buoy, such as around your waist but this was out first race so we weren’t sure what to do.”
One of the swim sections covered around 2.8kms. David says: “This was an open stretch of water and if the weather hadn’t been so good it would have made the swim very tough. Thankfully it was fairly calm.
“We have swum there in training and experienced very choppy conditions.”
While there was quite a battle on at the front of the race between a few pairs, David and Ewan, racing under the team name “Fresh Wine for the Horses”, reckon their trail running and ability to deal with the technicalities and transitions helped them to secure a win.
David says: “There was quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at the front with pairs overtaking each other. We kept it steady and we knew we were good runners and well as swimmers.
“There was quite a bit to the event, not just your fitness levels, so we kept calm and tried to be steady. There wasn’t much in it in the end, though, with the next teams coming home in 5:38, 5;39 and 5:40.”
Above all David and Ewan enjoyed the event. Ewan says: “It was really good fun and a great atmosphere. It wasn’t like other races and was less competitive in many ways. Because it was new, no one really knew what to expect.
“Pairs helped each other to find the right course and there was a lot of camaraderie. The weather was also amazing.”
Glasgow Triathlon Club members Ian Ramage and Bruce Greenhalgh raced under the team name: “GTC – The Walking Dead”. They were 13th male team. Ian says: “I thought the running was hard and hilly. The only flat parts were the swim!
“The water temperature was beautiful and the marshalls were helpful and encouraging.
“We did get lots of strange looks from walkers on Conic hill but lots of support from them, too.
“I think this’ll become an iconic event in the multisport calendar and it’s only 30 minutes from Glasgow.”