By Dan Paech
One of the most unique and beautiful places in Australia, Rottnest Island is an A Class Nature Reserve situated 20 km off Perth. Its white sand beaches, turquoise bays and unique opportunities to interact with Australian wildlife, both on land and in the sea, make it a world-class holiday destination. People visit Rottnest to see dolphins, sea lions, turtles, and fish in the water, and quokkas (an Australian marsupial residing solely on this island), on land.
The A Class Reserve classification means that the environment is actively protected and conserved for recreation. Cars are few and limited to island staff, with most visitors getting around by bike. The island, which measures 11 km by 4.5 km (at its widest point), is situated in the Indian Ocean, with the east side fairly protected, and the west side exposed to the elements of nature.
When deciding where to host Western Australia’s inaugural Swimrun, we wanted a place that captures the sport’s core elements, a wild but beautiful environment where people could challenge themselves. Rottnest was the perfect choice.
After 18 months of planning and preparation, the first Rottnest Swimrun sold out in just three weeks. April 1, 2017, saw 45 teams begin the circumnavigation of the island, through a mix of trail running, beach running, and ocean swimming. The weather could not have been better on race day, with bright blue skies, 26 degrees in the air and moderate winds blowing in very favourable directions for our course.
Impressively, all 45 teams made it around the entire course within the assigned cut-off times, with eventual winners Emily Loughnan and Gary Couanis (Old Bloke, Young Chick) winning the overall race and Mixed Team category in an impressive time of 3:36:17. Loughnan accepted the winner’s trophy known as “Uto The Quokka” (a homage to the home of Swimrun in Sweden) on her team’s behalf, stating how much fun she had and how impressed she was with the race organisation and unrelenting smiles of the race volunteers.
As Race Directors, we were overwhelmed by the positive response to the event, which would not have been possible without the support of all Rottnest island stakeholders, race sponsors and a huge number of enthusiastic volunteers consisting mostly of good friends and family.
In 2018 we will be replicating the race, but doubling the number of competing teams to 100. Given how quickly the event sold out in its first edition, we are expecting the 100 team spots to go quickly again this year.
We’d love to have some interstate and international teams competing next year, and now that Rottnest Swimrun is an ÖTILLÖ merit race, competitors can gather points for the Swimrun World Championship in Sweden by taking part.
We hope that you can join us down under for a uniquely Australian SwimRun!
Next year’s race is Saturday March 10th, with tickets on sale October 19th.
RUN: 28.5 km
SWIM: 4.5 km
TOTAL LENGTH: 33 km
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #4 (October 2017)