Short and sweet you might think, to do half a race. But with the mentality to “sprint” for 3 hours, it turned out quite tough. Swimrun Costa Brava Half with my Wild Coast Swimrun Camp partner Mia Rohman was fun and fast. Moreover, with the support of the entire Head Family, Team Envol’s power and the terrific ambience the Swimrun Costa Brava race organisation Besttrail offered, this weekend was so much more than just a race.
This year it was time for a change in both Swimrun partner and distance. With Hvar Swimrun just 2 weeks ago, I decided to go with the Half Distance. Initially, I was going to do this race with my Team Envol confidant Diane Sadik, but she was in great need of recovery from a cracked rib (get well soon Diane!). Although I missed my 2016 and 2017 Swimrun Costa Brava partner Pär Kristoffersson, I was excited to compete in the Women’s class this year, and as it was decided in last minute, with my newfound friend and Swimrun superstar Mia Rohman. I am so grateful that Mia wanted to race with me, despite having to fly right back to Barcelona after just coming home from our second edition of Wild Coast Swimrun Camp on the Monday of race week (thank you Mia!).
Mia and I had never raced together, but done quite a few trainings during the camps. She is one of the strongest women I know with an ever-positive and nothing-is-impossible attitude. Moreover, she is a killer running over rocks, roots and stones in the forrest, so I knew this was going to go fast!
On Friday, we practiced a bit in La Barceloneta with all our equipment, doing some transitions with the rope. Mia is, like I, using the Head Aero Swimrun Wetsuit (and matching it with a total turquoise kit – if you need Swimrun fashion advice, don’t hesitate to consult Mia). The training went well and made us feel confident for Sunday’s challenge.
On Saturday, we got ready early and jumped in the rental car up to the coast together with debuting Swimrun team FrAmerica (my fiancée Jonathan and his Tesla team partner Laure Sivadon – wohoo!). Saturday flew by with Head photoshoot at Palafrugell Swimming Pool, followed by check-in at the Livingit Official Swimrun hotel. During the afternoon, I held a presentation about race tips at H-Top Hotel, before the race briefing. I hope it was helpful and gave someone some inspiration!
The Half race started in Calella de Palafrugell, on the beach. We took the race bus from the hotel and changed into our wetsuits upon arrival, whereafter a short walk to the beach took us to the starting line. Usually I don’t warm up much before a en endurance race, but this time I did some short sprints to get my heart rate up a bit before the anticipated hectic start to come. Mia and I claimed a good spot in the front of the field, ready for a flying takeoff.
We went completely against my own advice to start smart (as shared during the lecture before the race briefing). We sprinted the first kilometres and got a nice jar of acid in our legs after the first few hills. It is indeed hard to keep calm in all the excitement at the start of a race. The first swim came up too quick and we hustled down in the water, geting the equipment ready. It went alright and after this we calmed down a bit and continued in a more realistic (still very good) pace throughout the race.
During the Swims, we used the rope and I pulled. I think the swim sections went quite well, except for the very first swim where we were slightly unprepared. Luckily, we managed to get in well and made a good section out of it. In the beginning, the swims were quite calm but towards the middle and the end of the race, we encountered choppy water and some bigger waves. It can be challenging sometimes when you use a short rope: the waves pull the elastic back and forth, creating a slingback effect that can be really dangerous for the person in the back… not so fun getting trail-shoes kicks in your face! Mia had to protect herself with her paddles at times.
My favourite Swim was this year’s extra addition: to swim through a cave! It was really cool, even though we got a little bit confused seeing people swimming back towards us getting out of the cave at first… As always the swimming is fantastic in the Costa Brava – completely crystal clear waters where you see an occasional cool jellyfish and other schools of water creatures. I love looking for animals under water (without ever slowing down of course ).
I knew the runs well from most of the Half Race sections – we have trained here a lot the past years and recently spend two Camp weekends practicing these slopes. Hence, it was no surprise that the hills were step and took a little bit of a toll on the legs. I know it was much worse for all the teams running the Marathon; I heard there was quite a lot of climbing to do in the first part of the race and a few adventurous spots we missed this time. Next year wee level up to the long one again!
My favourite runs are the most technical ones – I especially love running on rocks. We got quite a bit of this, along with tricky trails mixed in with some sand running and easy beach walk sprints. Mia made sure we kept a good pace throughout.
Although we never raced together before, everything went smooth. It took us a few times getting into the transitions with the cord, but after a couple we were all into it. I appreciate that Mia reminded me to pull up my suit zipper approaching the water, as in a sprint race the tempo is definitely turned up a notch and you really have to have your head with you to get your equipment ready in due time before approaching the water. We also reminded each other to take gels and refuel properly. I like to take gels in uphills, as you anyways go slower and have some time getting it out of your suit and to eat it calmly. I use Clif Shot Energy Gel citrus – its a fresh flavour and just the right amount of energy and caffeine at a time.
The whole race went quite well – only a few sections on the beach the corse markings had blown away so we were a bit lost looking for them. Luckily we found our way thanks to people pointing us in the right direction and by following wet tracks in the sand. After the last few short runs and swims, we crossed the finish line in Platja d’Aro as the first Women’s team and a 6th position in the overall ranking. We completed the 17km+ running and almost 4000 swimming in right under three hours – good work Mia!
I want to send a huge thank you to Besttrail, the race organiser, and to all our sponsors and supporters that made this Swimrun Costa Brava weekend something out of the ordinary. Everyone came along to make this weekend extra special: Head’s Italian product developers, the Head Spain team, all of Team Envol and the Vivobarefoot crew gave us top-class support and created an ambience like no other around this race. Thank you all for bringing your fantastic Swimrun spirit. The only ones missing were my mom, dad and sister – your invitation for next year is already waiting
I love to compete and win, but I also love to see others do so, and I am grateful to be able to share Jonathan’s first Swimrun experience with Laure! They did great and completed the Short Race as the 9th Mixed Team. I wish I would have been there to see Jonathan throwing Laure over all the Jellyfishes in the shore by one of the swims… that is indeed a whole new level of team spirit.
Big congrats to our fellow Head Swimming athletes and all the Team Envol studs, who filled most of the podium spots in the Long, Half and Short races. Fantastic performance guys, lets keep it coming all season.