Let me start out by saying that David and I are ambassadors for IGNITE SwimRun. We actually became ambassadors prior to having raced any SwimRun events. We originally signed up for one event, SwimRun Lake James, but then we were picked to be ambassadors. We knew it was an opportunity to be a part of a growing sport, to represent what looked to be a great company (IGNITE) and ultimately race more. Well, we got so much more than we could ever imagine. By the end of the 2018 season we raced a total of 5 SwimRun races with 3 of them being IGNITE races: Minnesota, Rhode Island and Virginia.
We met the IGNITE team for the first time in Minnesota. We arrived several days early to the race venue and were eager to help out, marking trails, setting up the venue, really whatever help was needed. We could see immediately that they are a group of dedicated, hard working individuals who have a passion to see SwimRun grow in the US and love organizing races.
IGNITE Minnesota is located at Cuyuna State Park in Ironton, Minnesota. It is known for its 30+ miles of single track trails with tight turns and scenic vistas. It is a popular mountain biking destination, but the trails are also amazing for running. The many quarries throughout the park are filled with beautiful crystal clear water which allow for perfect swimming conditions and is also popular with scuba divers. This race was a combination of a little bit of road, a little bit of fire road and mostly moderately challenging single track trails mixed with quarry swimming. We had perfect weather and perfect water temperatures. We had a great race and although it was super challenging, we had so much fun.
Our next SwimRun was in Rhode Island, Block Island to be exact. This race was more of a spur of the moment decision. Since we were going to be only 4 hours away we decided it would be a great opportunity to do another SwimRun. So off we went to Rhode Island to help set up, explore Block Island and race. This race was spectacular in so many ways. It was a combination of road, fire road and moderately technical single track trail along with some calm swimming in the Great Salt Pond and more challenging ocean swims in the Atlantic as well as the scenery of sparkling clear waters, dramatic bluffs and miles of beautiful beaches. Again, the weather was perfect, or even a bit warm, and the water temperature was warm enough to opt out of a wetsuit if desired. Since we had some rougher ocean swims I decided to wear my wetsuit for security and David opted out. This race really pushed me outside my comfort zone. The ocean swims were a bit rough at times and one section turned into a run as I was unable to get past the break. Although all of the SwimRun races we have done have been so different, this race became our favorite SwimRun race of the 2018 season.
Our last IGNITE race of the season (but 4th overall) was SwimRun Virginia. This was a general entry race, meaning open registration for any athlete, but it was also the National SwimRun Championship where the top teams from 9 other SwimRun races in the US would compete for the top spot on the podium. David and I put this race on our list because we had heard that it was a pretty cool race with a combination of urban and trails and river swimming. Well this race did not disappoint. The week prior to the race the weather was warm and perfect. The river had been running high all summer long due to the many tropical storms that passed through the region and then another storm rolled through the week prior to the race. The temperatures dropped, the river levels rose and we were questioning if this race would happen. Well, the river dropped enough for the race to go on safely but the temperatures never recovered. The day of the race it was cool and overcast and the water temperature was about 61 degrees. The most challenging part of this race was the river. At 6 feet high it was running swiftly. I have never swam in a swift running river and tried hard not to panic. Once again I found myself way outside my comfort zone. There were several moments of sheer panic but David remained calm and was the voice of reason I needed to get through this challenge. This is the essence of SwimRun, having a team member to encourage you, support you as well as for safety. This was probably the most challenging race of the season.
Prior to 2018, David and I had never been ambassadors for a company. We feel so honored that IGNITE invited us to join them for the 2018 season and welcomed us into their family. We have had an education on race organization and directing, got an opportunity to race in 3 amazing but very different venues and made some lifelong friends, not only with other athletes and ambassadors but with the IGNITE team.
“There is nothing more exciting than meeting new people, hearing their stories, and being inspired.” -Unknown