Loch Gu Loch race report with Anders Wallensten from Team Ultraswimrun

 

Hi Anders. You and Johanna came in as first Swedish team at 14th place at the Loch Gu Loch Swimrun in Scotland, Congratulations!

Thanks!

We do short race reports that goes beyond the stats of races, to give people a feeling for them and to help swim-runners pick races best suited for them. So to kick-off on this theme, how was the race? Can you describe it?

It was a Fantastic race in a beautiful setting. Starting at Urquhart castle ruin on the shore of Loch Ness, you then swim across the deep monster filled lake to ascend the hills on the opposite side. From there you dip in and out of smaller lakes run on country roads and climb and scramble down some hills to reach Loch Ness again, were a final cold swim takes you to the finish line by an old mansion. The atmosphere and arrangement was friendly and nice. All in all it was a perfect day out.

What do you think about the course?

I loved the first part with fantastic lake swims, runs across heather and trough bracken on the hills and up old country roads passing staring sheep. The middle part I would rather leave out as my feet still complain that it was too much tarmac for my taste. The end crescendo with some hill climbing and beautiful views over Loch Ness was amazing.

The lakes were cold and dark and some had poor visibility, but mostly the water seemed really clean. Although the organisers never revealed how cold the water was, it was definitely closer to 10 than 15 degrees in most lakes. We were probably lucky with the weather as there were high clouds protecting us from the sun while still letting us have great visibility and there was hardly any wind.

What was your “Kodak-moment?”

Looking down at the old castle/mansion by the finish line, after ascending the final steep hill. The view looked like a scene from lord of the rings!

You did well finishing as first Swedish team and, 14th place in total. Did the race go according to plan?

Everything went according to plan up until the end of the second to last run. We swam fast and kept moving our feet in a slow trot despite too little mileage preparation before the race. Unfortunately we missed an important turn along with some other teams, and lost at least half an hour trying to get back on track. After that we lost some psychological steam and simply focused on finishing. So all together, we were a bit disappointed but still quite happy with the result, since we had such a wonderful day out in the fabulous surroundings.

 

Any advice on what equipment to use?

The swims are quite cold so if you know that you get cold easily, I would definitely recommend a thicker suit or at least long arms and some way to cover the knees. We used a suit with cut legs, but used the cut parts as leggings during the swims. That worked quite nicely.

Anything else that was extra about the race?

Well, participants were able to book rooms in the Highland Club Mansion, a hotel in an old castle which had great facilities, it would have been nice to have stayed longer to enjoy them more. There was no communal dinner afterwards, but everyone got to eat at a nice restaurant at their own leisure.

…and what’s next?

Well members of the Ultraswimrun team have been invited to do the Koster invitational Swimrun and we will do the short but probably crazy fun Lucia Swimrun in Borås in December! Otherwise I look forward to the off season rehab training and technique polishing. Next summer is going to be a Swimrun bonanza with the Stockholm Archipelago Ultraswimrun Challenge (SAUC) as the main event of the summer. Imagine swimrunning the full length of the Stockholm Archipelago in one go over the course of 5-6 days, a true and epic swimrun adventure in the outback!

Finally any advice to those planning on doing Loch Gu Loch next year?

Prepare for the cold water just enjoy the Scottish Highlands.

…and for the organisers? Any advice on how they can improve the race?

Well it was a great race and well-arranged overall so I am sure next year will be a success. Areas too improve is the course marking since we, and several other teams, took a wrong turn and that one team even had to quit the race because they ended up totally wrong. I would also recommend at least one additional water station and if possible to reduce the tarmac road stretches and exchange them for trail.

/Team Ultraswimrun

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