I did my first Torpedo SwimRun in 2019. It was the Torpedo Wild, which featured an amazing swamble down the Kaaimans River and a mile swim across Island Lake, in Wilderness. Since then, I’ve worked at a few and taking part in a bunch of tours and even a Torpedo Cape race. And, while I love mountain biking and trail running, and surfing will always remain my primary passion, from an event perspective I think SwimRuns are my favourite, writes Seamus Allardice.
My rationale is simple. I enjoy an adventure, and a SwimRun is always an adventure. Even when it’s just on the wine farm where I live. Running my usual 7 kilometre loop. If I can jump in the dam mid run, swim a length, and then run on, the whole experience is more fun. Then you add the amazing places Torpedo hosts events at and you have a proper experience.
Along with the Wilderness course, which started in Saasveld and finished at Ebb and Flow, they’ve hosted races at the beautiful Plaisir Wine Estate, in the bougie Val de Vie, and in the urban heart of the V&A Waterfront. The Cape course though is truly special. Icy, azure ocean swims, scenic Atlantic coastal runs, a rock jump and a scramble through the boulders of Glen Beach all make it an epic day out.
It’s also the type of thing which gives you a free ego boost when you tell people about it. The simplicity of SwimRun takes some explaining. Yes, you run in your wetsuit (well you don’t have to, you could swim without a wetsuit and do the whole thing in a Speedo/swimming costume). Yes, you swim in your shoes. It’s that simple. There are no transitions, no faffing. You start in one outfit and just go until you reach the finish.
If it sounds a bit crazy, that’s because it is… a bit. But it’s not overboard, I promise. It’s actually easier than it seems. You just have to dive in and try it.
The free ego boost comes from telling people who can out ride or out run you about it. So often when I explain it to people, they think I’m mental (which might also be true). Why would anyone choose to run in a wetsuit, which constricts your natural stride? And why would you want to swim nearly 3 kilometres, in a 16 kilometre race, in the freezing sea?
Firstly, why not. Secondly, the disbelief on the faces of people who are clearly better athletes than you, when you explain what you did is very rewarding. It shouldn’t be, but it is! And thirdly, it’s actually not that hard. The wetsuit keeps you afloat and it’s not like you’re swimming 1:30 per 100 metre splits. You cruise at a comfortable pace. Plus, you can use a pull-buoy, hand paddles and even pair of short fins (though, then you need to stash your shoes for each swim which is a faf).
Then the runs, on the long Torpedo SwimRun events, are not done at a flat-out sprint either. If I manage 6:30 per kilometre splits I’m pretty stoked. There’s no point in running so hard you can’t take in the scenery.
Look, there are people who race the Torpedo events. They are a pretty special breed though. They tend to be good triathletes who enjoy turbulent ocean swims, like Alexandra and Nicolas Quenet. In fact, the Quenet siblings are currently undefeated in South African SwimRun races. On the shorter distance courses flat out speed on the run is the key skill, but as soon as the swims increase in length and the entrances or exits to the swim become tricker, the better watermen and women thrive.
First timers don’t need to worry about competing though. Even good triathletes or avid ocean swimmers should ease into the sport. Find out what it’s about first then race. Or then adventure and go for a bigger distance.
To provide a manageable taste of cold-water SwimRun racing Torpedo host a short-distance Cosy event alongside the longer Cape and long Ops races. Torpedo Cosy consists of 5 kilometres of running and 1 500 metres of swimming, starting at Bakoven and finishing at Clifton Fourth. It takes place alongside the Cape and Ops races, and is timed so that the Cosy competitors are on course with the rest of the Torpedo SwimRun field.
It’s the perfect introduction to the sport. Check it out…
Torpedo Cape 2023
|Date:||Saturday, 18 November|
|Start Times:||Ops: 06:45 | Cape: 07:00 | Cosy: 09:00|
|Spectator Guide:||Click here to view the full Spectator Guide|
Torpedo SwimRun Knowledge Base:
|Wetsuits:||You can do it in a surf or triathlon/open water swimming wetsuit. But there are SwimRun specific wetsuits too.|
|Pull-Buoy||To keep your legs floating, if you’re a less strong swimmer, some SwimRun athletes modify a standard pull-buoy with an elastic to keep it in place on the runs.|
|Hand Paddles||I use hand paddles for the longer Torpedo SwimRuns. They’re easier to carry on runs than a pull-buoy and give you a good advantage on the swims.|
|Fins||Fins are allowed, as long as they’re shorter than 15 centimetres from your toes to the fin tip.|
|Race Equipment||A swim cap (supplied) | A race bib (supplied) | A whistle (bring your own)|
|Thursday Socials||Every Thursday from 9th floor of the Latitude Aparthotel. Meet at 06:30|