A 2015 Breca SwimRun report

It was symbolic. After a mere 38 undulating kilometers of technical and steep running, with a vertical ascent of 1,900 meters, the final 100 meters to the finish line were uphill as well. The day was a fusion of running and 6 kilometers of swimming, and there were ice cold cans of beer waiting for every team that reached the village of Buttermere. It was a lengthy day out in the clear waters and sharp western fells of England’s most impressive scenery – the Lake District. It was the perfect location to plant the SwimRun seed in the UK. The inaugural Breca SwimRun offered an authentic SwimRun course, with 44 difficult kilometers requiring advanced skills.

“The course should be well marked. Some farmers might have taken down some of the flags but we should be OK. Read your map cautiously,” indicated race director Ben at the briefing before the competition. Except for one section along the top of the infamous Honister Pass where the sheep had taken to eating the red markings, it was very well marked. The course was a combination of single trails and pure off-road running, with very little road running in the mix. In a part of England where fell running is very popular, the course demanded fearless running skills and the ability to handle steep terrain. A good slice of the running was on stony single footpaths, testing the competitors' off-trail running skills as they crossed rivers and searched for the red flags that guided the teams of two to the next swim section. Throughout 17 successive legs, past icy, crystal-clear waters, the path was a humbling encounter.

“This was a rough day out. Probably the best set of trails I have run in the UK, though!” said Hamish Cropper of the men’s winning team ‘Clapham Bruderwunderz’. Cropper and his partner Alan Scott, based in London, came in 6th at last year’s ÖtillÖ SwimRun World champs and took the maiden win at this first SwimRun race in the UK. “We are both qualified for Kona in a few weeks. It was a very good day of training for the two of us. A good bit of time spent on the feet and a great day of strength work for our running and swimming form. A very hard but enjoyable day, though,” commented Alan while re-hydrating with some lager shortly after the finish. A few minutes later, the German crew “The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB” rounded out the podium with its two teams taking 2nd and 3rd. In the women's category, it was team "Girls Wot Can" who won with an impressive time of 7:26.

The unique vibe and camaraderie of SwimRun was apparent as racers gathered at the finish line to cheer each other on and share race stories. Throughout the day, sheep and locals alike were astounded by the wetsuit-clad athletes running through the countryside. Hopefully more competitors will test themselves along the ridges and fells of this beautiful part of the world next year.

The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB enters the 12 degree waters of Buttermere Lake.

Early in the race the first three teams were working together.

Knut Baadshaug, Hamish Cropper and Markus Rössel (from left) exit Crummock Water after 600 meters of swimming.

Competitors don't really blend into the local scene.

All smiles as Paul Skipper and Helen Alexander approach yet another run.

A course highlight - the steep climb towards Dale Head.

Although local sheep dined on the course markers, all teams finished within the 10 hour cut-off.

Sometimes no caption is needed.

Racers got wet feet, and not just during the swims.

Fabian Eberhard and Malte Staehr grinding hard across the ridge trails.

All images © Paul Mitchell of wildmanmitchell.com

2015 Breca SwimRun
Buttermere, UK


1. Clapham Bruderwunderz / Alan Scott + Hamish Cropper (GBR) 5:47
2. The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB 2 / Fabian Eberhard + Malte Staehr (GER) 6:15
3. The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB / Markus Rossel + Knut Baadshaug (GER) 6:23


1. Girls Wot Can / Jenny Rice + Claire Wilson 7:26
2. Team Silver Lining / Jane Higgins + Lousie Malone 8:47


1. Mersey Tri / Paul Skipper + Helen Alexander (GBR) 8:03