Merit Race #10: The Amphibious Challenge
By Simon Donato
I have never been a great swimmer, so when we decided to compete in ÖTILLÖ in 2015 for an episode of the TV show Boundless, I was probably more nervous than excited, knowing that I was in for 10 km of swimming.
Little did I know that I would absolutely fall in love with the sport and feel compelled to introduce ÖTILLÖ-style swimrun to Canada.
The Amphibious Challenge in Sheenboro Quebec takes place in the Ottawa River, a majestic heritage river that starts in Northern Ontario and winds its way south through Ottawa, and Montreal before finally reaching the St Lawrence. The inaugural race-course in 2016 was 15 km, with 11 km of running and 4 km of swimming, broken up over 7 islands.
Swimming in the Ottawa River is an incredible experience, as the water is generally warm, the current light, and the shoreline is home to kilometres of incredible sandy beaches.
Racers were treated to warm water, and a mix of road, single-track trails, flagged routes through forest, and shield rock. The race started and finished on the sandy beach at the historic Pontiac Hotel, formerly a Hudson Bay trading post, and athletes were treated to local fiddlers, a hearty pre-race breakfast, home cooked post-race meals, and lots of wonderful support and fanfare from the local community.
Swimming in the Ottawa River is an incredible experience, as the water is generally warm, the current light, and the shoreline is home to kilometres of incredible sandy beaches. The islands that dot the river are formed from granite, and pop out of the water like a turtle’s shell – if it were covered in trees!
As a merit race, we are adding a 40 km course, which is an exciting addition for us. The short course will remain largely as it was last year, but the long course will take athletes through new communities, and add some long runs between the island swims. Our goal is to showcase the beautiful region while providing swimrunners with a great challenge, and a wonderful adventure.
Our event is the perfect entry point to test the sport in a safe and controlled way, and last year, we saw a large number of “local” athletes compete, many of whom are returning, with the field dominated by women. We already have a number of international teams registered for the 2017 edition on September 9, and are looking forward to hosting another safe and successful swimrun event.
Total distance: 40km
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue # 3 (July 2017)