Odyssey SwimRun has produced races throughout the US since 2016 but this was the first running of one in the Lone Star State. 250 athletes contested the challenging course set in Texas Hill Country.
The Pace Bend Park location is inside Austin city limits but is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Texas' capital.
Long Course athletes, both 2-person teams and solo athletes, completed 13 miles of trail running and 5+ miles of swimming around Pace Bend Park. Short Course athletes, teams and solo, completed 8 miles of trail running and 2 miles swimming.
The start line looked a bit different than previous swimrun events with athletes staggered 6-feet apart versus the traditional mass start.
Race organizers set athletes out from the start in 10 second intervals. Team Mexi-Cali's Roberto Florencia and Charles Brown took the time-trial start in stride and were strong finishing just off the podium in fourth.
Instead of swimming between islands as is often the case in Odyssey events, Pace Bend features a few dozen coves in the Colorado River. Low water levels meant athletes needed to stay attentive to trees and exposed rocks.
The Balcones Canyonlands provided a stunning backdrop.
Run sections offered a variety of terrain including singletrack, rocky and rooty trails and even the occasional bush-whacking section but in swimrun you negotiate with what nature gives you.
These teammates look to be in sync after completing one of the early swim legs.
Garrett Weber-Gale was the second swimmer on the Olympic Gold Medal winning 4x100 relay at the Beijing Olympics when the Americans famously beat France in come-from-behind fashion to ensure Michael Phelps earned one of his record setting eight Golds. Weber-Gale's friend Mark Iwans told the 2-time Gold Medalist about the Austin event and he took up the adventure despite only a few weeks of run training. We cannot see a tether which must mean Iwans is a solid swimmer in his own right to keep pace with the Olympian.
Even in November, Texas can be dish out some downright oppressive conditions. Cloud cover was a welcome relief for Hannah Davies and Nicholas Mathers as the temps didn't start soaring until later in the day.
Do it your own aid stations are normal for swimrun and organizers will often provide athletes with a foldable cup to use. Team Lyle Fitness' David Lipke opts to drink from his swim cap while teammate Mike Lyle searches for a gel.
Former pro triathlete and top swimmer James Bonney teamed up with friend and training partner Stephan Schwarze for their first swimrun. The Austin-based duo named their team Old School and went on to finish third overall in the Men's Long Course race.
Not everyone arrives to the finish line unscathed. Gemma Hollis took an early spill on the rocky trails but together with teammate Jana Richtrova held on for third place in the Women's Long Course race.
Drew Sapp and Michael Schultz navigate a steep rocky swim exit and eventually ended up as the second overall Men's Long Course team.
Paul Matthews is another former pro triathlete who calls Austin home and raced with one of his coached athletes Brandi Swicegood to second overall in the Mixed Long Course category.
Many athletes who want to try swimrun but perhaps do not know anyone else wanting to scratch the same itch compete in the Solo category. This is an especially popular category for triathletes used to racing as an individual although race organizers encourage everyone to try out the team racing at some point.
Pace Bend is a popular trail system for mountain bikers but Tyler Long and Scott Chaney appear far more interested in refueling at this aid station.
Amie Quinn launches from 30-feet. This cliff jump was an optional way for athletes to enter one of the swim legs and many took the leap.
Teamwork is an essential part of swimrun and Bronwen and Greg Dierksen have it nailed down. The married couple was the first American team to podium at an OTILLO World Series event and finished the challenging Austin course as the fastest overall team and easily won the Mixed Long Course category.
Wearing the Gold bib put a target on Team Swaggy Zaddys but Lee Greene and Marcus Barton rose to the occasion and won the Men's Long Course category. The Gold bib was earned for accumulating the most points from OTILLO Merit Races in North American including Odyssey's four races, SwimRun North Carolina and SwimRun Lake James.
Photos by Aaron Palaian and Elizabeth Kreutz.