It has been almost a month since our 2nd SwimRun race, IGNITE Minnesota. This race definitely ranks as one of the most entertaining and challenging races that I have completed. SwimRun is not like any other sport. It’s not triathlon without a bike, it is a team sport where the team alternates between running and swimming along a pre-marked course in nature; it can be between islands or between lakes. As a team you race within 10 meters of each other, you share the experience, the fun, the beauty and the suffering.
Minnesota had a short and long course, so being endurance junkies, we picked the long course. This race consisted of 7 swim legs (3.48 miles) and 8 run legs (12.72 miles) for a total distance of 16.2 miles. This is way more swimming than either of us has done in a single race and we knew it would be demanding and difficult but also knew we were up for the task.
We arrived in Minnesota several days prior to the race to help with pre-race preparation. Less than 24 hours after arriving in Minnesota we were at the race venue scouting some trails to asses their condition and getting a sneak peak at the course and the region. The water was warm and crystal clear and the area was beautiful but buggy! While in the park we met an incredible local couple who invited us to their cottage to hear our story, share a meal and take hot showers (a hot shower is a luxury when you live in your van). We spent that evening and the next morning with Coreene and Mark, getting to know them, talking about life, sharing our stories and enjoying their company. It is people like Coreene and Mark in Minnesota, Becky and Steve and Tim and Kristi and Lyn and Scott and Jacob and Lyndsey and… in Emporia, Janie and Corey and Brian in Cody, Blake and his family and the entire Black Hills Running Club in South Dakota (the list goes on and on) that have made this trip what it is.
Back to the race and the reason we traveled to Minnesota to begin with. The following day we met with some of the IGNITE crew and marked the course that we had scouted the day before. In addition to the course marking we helped set up the venue and be of any assistance we possibly could. This was a great learning experience for both of us, as we got a first hand understanding of the work and dedication it takes to direct such a race.
Race morning we woke early, as we usually do on race days, and were super excited to race. There was excitement in the air and everyone was anxiously awaiting the start of the race. We had a very specific race day plan-have as much fun as possible and try not to come in last!! We started off with a 4 mile trail run and somehow managed to stay in the top 5 teams getting into the water. That top 5 placing quickly disappeared during the first swim leg!! We felt that we were holding a good position until we hit the 4th swim of the day. David is typically a stronger swimmer than me but he was really struggling with this leg of the race. He had just completed his first 100K just 1 week prior to this race and I believe this contributed to the difficulty. The remainder of the swims were arduous for him and we even tethered together, with me in the lead. This was a new scenario for us but we managed to make it work. We continued to push through, while encouraging each other along every step of the way and checking in with each other even if we didn’t say a lot. We hit the final swim of the day before getting out at the boat ramp and a short run to the finish line. We finished with huge smiles knowing that despite the challenges we had that day, it was a huge accomplishment but most importantly we had fun, we worked together, we raced together and we didn’t come in last!!!
After the race, some food and socializing, we went back out on the trails to sweep the part of the course that we had marked. We walked the course and talked about the day, how much fun we had, how hard it was and how we can’t wait to do another SwimRun. We were so impressed with this race, with IGNITE, with Danny and Jay and the entire race crew. They picked an amazing race venue with beautiful trails and crystal clear lakes, extremely organized, safe with tons of race support, great swag and they treated every athlete like they won the race!!
Thank you IGNITE for such a memorable race and we can’t wait for IGNITE Rhode Island in September!!