Launching with confidence at Casco Bay

Cooler temps and rain made for ideal SwimRun conditions on the coast of Maine, and teams and individuals had arrived from all across North America for this 3rd edition race on August 12. SwimRun Casco Bay Islands race founder Jeff Cole passed away unexpectedly earlier this year and in his honor the race was renamed Cole Classic and will keep this name moving forward.

The Long Course took athletes from the exclusive private property of Diamond Cove through Great Diamond Island and down to Little Diamond where athletes had the option to leap off the 15 foot high ferry dock or run down to the boat slip dock. And many took the leap.

About half of the field opted to start the swim from the boat dock.

Earlier athletes signed a golden bib jersey number 1 as a gift to the family of race founder Jeff Cole.

Before the start there was a moment of silence to honor Jeff Cole.

The female short course teamTeam Surf & Turf took the lead in the early stages and never looked back, winning by six minutes.

Some islands allowed for faster transitions than others but that is the nature of SwimRun.

Courtney Clifford flew in with boyfriend, Bryan Mineo, from Los Angeles to compete in the short course mixed category.

Despite a travel day from hell which saw him arriving to Portland at 2:30AM the evening before, Matt Hurley once again teamed up with Little Diamond Island resident John Stevens. The duo led from start to finish and were never put under distress from another team winning their third straight title.

For the third year in a row,Erin Hunter and Emily Finanger won the female division in the long course race and also finished seventh overall.

IRONMAN champion Sara Gross teamed up with Kelly O’Mara and this team grabbed second place in the female long course category.

The Short Course and Solo races started an hour after the Long Course and this meant one big line going into the longest swim of the day, the Hussey Sound, a mile long crossing between Peaks Island and Long Island.

Yvonne DeCory has raced in each of the 3 editions and here points out the best course of action to teammate Marcio Munch.

SwimRun is most often raced as a team race but Casco Bay opened up a handful of spots in this year’s edition to see how a solo category would work out. There were many late editions to this category on race weekend as athletes transferred over due to teammates pulling out with pre-race injuries.

Rachel Allen and Alexis Dunn of team All-Dunn nearing the end of a run leg heading back into the bay.

Gregory Dierksen and wife Bronwen finished third overall in the long course event and were first place mixed team. The 5+ miles of swimming and 15+ miles of running over 9 islands also served as a good final workout before the couple tries their hand at ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championships next month.

Nate Larlee hooks up to Thad Ingersoll before tackling another challenging swim. Larlee is racing at ÖTILLÖ Worlds next month with Casco Bay Islands men’s winner John Stevens.

Phil and Matt Owen were both NCAA collegiate champion level swimmers. They are still working on their running legs but have been steadily improving each year. Expect big things in the future from Team Owen Bros.

Runners exit the Dark Forest Trail on Long Island. This was a new edition to the course and racers raved about the addition.

After a week of sizzling temps, race day was cool and overcast with a light drizzle, perfect conditions for SwimRun. Some teams even opted for extra warmth with a neoprene cap.

Dara Ono and Bill Motter formed a short course mixed team and despite being from opposite coasts of the US, showed how much fun the team aspect is.

Next up for SwimRun USA is SwimRun San Juan Islands taking place on September 23rd on Orcas Island, Washington. The Long Course will feature 18+ miles of tough trail running with 5600 feet of elevation gain and 3+ miles of swimming in fresh water mountain lakes.

All images © Aaron Palaian