June 24, 2015
Breca Buttermere is an epic Swimrun race across some of the U.K.'s most stunning and rugged wilderness: the Western Fells of the Lake District. Over 17 consecutive legs, teams of two will complete a total of 6km of lake swimming and 38km of trail running, including 1,900m of vertical ascent and the infamous Honister Pass.
Up to 50 teams will compete to see who can negotiate the challenging terrain and glacial lake swims to be crowned the inaugural Breca Buttermere champions in the men’s, women’s and mixed categories.
In 2002, four friends challenged each other to race across the Stockholm archipelago, running across the islands and swimming between them in teams of two, with the losing pair buying the drinks en route and at the finish.
The race that resulted – ÖTILLÖ (Swedish for Island-to-Island) – has become the World Championship of Swimrun racing, attracting the world’s best adventure racers, triathletes, runners and swimmers. Swimrun is now one of the fastest-growing endurance sports in the world. ÖTILLÖ, and several other races like it in the Nordic region, now draw up to 350 teams from around the world, including a growing number of British entrants. Breca is proud therefore to bring the sport to the U.K. with its first dedicated long-form race.
There are many trends that suggest Swimrun will continue to gain in popularity.
The growth of triathlon, where participants swim, then run, then cycle, has been enormous in the U.K. alone. According to British Triathlon, the national governing body, 196,303 people participated in U.K. triathlons last year, a rise of 63% from the 120,620 who took part in 2009.
The popularity of obstacle races such as Tough Mudder and the Spartan Races demonstrates the increasing enthusiasm for evermore varied physical challenges. Swimrun capitalises on these trends by offering a raw, more natural challenge. There is no need for expensive equipment such as a carbon bike – a wetsuit, goggles and trainers are all that is required. Also there is no need for gimmicks: the natural terrain is sufficiently testing without the need for electrified obstacles, ice baths or flaming tyres.
Rather than city centres or disused quarries, Swimrun races take place in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the world, pitting racers against technical trails, the high crags and icy bodies of water. Uniquely, participants race in pairs, so the suffering and elation entailed are shared experiences. Teamwork plays an integral role in success. While water typically provides a natural barrier, with Swimrun, it’s just another part of the journey.
The name Breca is derived from the most epic swimming contest in literature: the seven-day race between Breca and Beowulf across a stormy windswept sea.
Breca emerges from the water victorious; however, on being chided by the narrator Unferth for his defeat, Beowulf points out he lost only as he stopped to fight sea monsters along the way. Whilst the sea monsters will be lacking from our races, the events will nevertheless be a true test of strength against the open water and the trail.
The Breca Swimrun organising team have 30 years combined endurance experience, in events ranging from 100-mile ultramarathons to the Mongol Derby, Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, ÖTILLÖ and the Transylvanian Bear Race. We understand what makes a great event.