Winter training for swimrunners is difficult in countries with freezing conditions and impossible if there is ice cover. However, instead of simply heading indoors for swim training, there is an alternative that feels like the natural winter substitute – Skate-running! Same idea as swimrun, same land and water transitions, just use skates instead. Run between point A-B and skate across the lakes on the way. Although perfect winter conditions for this are rare in many countries, in most northern European countries it should be possible. And it should definitely be attractive to the Dutch who are avid skaters. Sweden has a very favorable environment for tour skating in the parts of the country where it is cold enough to get thick ice, but warm enough to prevent the skating possibilities to be ruined by snow.
There is actually already at least one organized race in Sweden that could be would qualify to be called SkateRun – Krogrännet – a 40 km race between three lakes close to Stockholm. Although it is currently termed a skating event, it does involve two land passages one 1km and the other 1,5km and as you make a circuit you will pass these twice totaling 5km. Most participants walk, but those that are aiming for a good time run while carrying their skates in their hands. The race has been an annual event since the year 2000, with slightly different sections due to varying ice conditions, but it has only been cancelled four times because of lack of ice. This year’s race was held February 7th.
Skate-running is not only similar to swimrun in terms of the racing environment, if the sport was to be developed, the challenge would be the same as in swimrun. Transitions that needs to go smoothly, a mix of quite different training forms and also complications of having to carry all your equipment at all times. Some might consider using ski poles to speed up the racing, but they would be cumbersome to carry while running(although trail runners do this regularly). Some might want to change into running shoes, but that would take time. Lots of options and opportunities for development! You could also argue that for safety reasons it could be a good idea to compete in pairs, just like in Swimrun.
So there you have it, a sport that mimics swimrunning and can keep your abstinence at bay during cold winter days. Get out there and try it!
To get a real swimrunners view on skate-running, World of Swimrun had a chat with Johanna Wallensten, a two times ötillö finisher from team Ultraswimrun, who won the women’s competition at Krogrännet this year skate-running the 40km in 2 hours and 14 minutes.
Johanna, what did you think of the race?
It was a wonderful race. Well-arranged and friendly atmosphere, the volunteers did a great job marshalling. It was amazing to do a race so close to the city center and still have fantastic ice conditions and beautiful surroundings. A total of about 250 people started the race.
What were the challenges?
It started off badly as my skate binding broke when I was doing a test lap just before the start. My husband saved the day by letting me use his skates. However, they were longer than I was used to so a bit awkward to skate on. Other than that the stiff headwind on the return stretch was really tough, but on the other hand I like it when, just like in swimrun, the forces of nature challenge you during a race.
You do a lot of swimrun during the summers, do you think Skate-run could be a good substitute during winter?
Absolutely, I like the idea of crossing both land and sea during a race. The trick will be to figure out what boots to use that you can really run in, but I am sure it could be worked out. Skate-running gives you a really good leg workout – Unlike in swimrunning the legs do not get any rest during the water segments.
Are you going to do the race next year?
To finish off. What swimruns do you plan for 2016?
Well, I am planning to do Utö swimrun, Isles of Scilly swimrun, Höga kusten swimrun and Hell´s hop swimrun not to mention the Stockholm Archipelago Ultra Swimrun Challenge (SAUC). So the summer will be busy swimrunning!