Swimrun NC is in and around Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina, US, in late October, when athletes with be greeted with stunning fall colours and a very challenging swimrun course of 23.5km running with 3km of swimming split up into 10 runs and 9 swims.
The race is a vertical swimrun with its 610m of elevation gain and athletes who have competed in various events in Europe compare SwimRun NC to the Rockman Swimrun – the ÖTILLÖ merit event in Norway.
A testimony to the challenge, of the 52 teams that started in the inaugural 2016 race, some 30 have signed up again for the second edition this year.
Swimrunners can expect to navigate beautiful waterfalls, a mountain creek, and a dam but most of the swimming takes place at Hanging Rock Lake, which is halfway up the mountain. Supporters, music and an announcer will welcome athletes at the lake for two 500m and two 25m swims. After swimming racers ascend to the very top of the mountain via 642 steps and once they are able to catch their breath are promised a stunning view.
From there the race traverses the ridge for about 1.5km on difficult and memorable terrain, before finally descending back down to the next sets of swimming. The initial descent, however, is very technical and requires full focus and confidence.
Swimrunners can expect to navigate beautiful waterfalls, a mountain creek, and a dam.
In the second half, the trail gets faster as athletes make their way to the Dan River for the final swim to the finish. The swimming is downstream but depending on water levels there may also be some scrambling involved. After 900 metres, a set of steps takes all athletes to the finish where a great post-race meal and awards ceremony – with unique trophies and cash – await the top three teams in each division.
As swimrunner Marcus Barton commented, “The course was fun, challenging and very well marked. At every one of the confusing intersections or key points of the race, there were volunteers to direct you where to go. The feed station at the lake was a really good idea and pulled friends and family into the race from a spectator standpoint.”
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #3 (July 2017)