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EX Swimrun Race Preview: The Biggest Swimrun Party Is Back In Town

The buzz and excitement around EX Swimrun is building as swimrunners will flock across the world to take part. We spoke to the big smiling Nicholas Roman to find out more…

EX 2024, some big names on the lineup. What can we expect?

Yeah, we have some really cool names on the starting line for this year’s ARK Supersprint and the EX24 Long and Short races the day after. This year we have really put a lot of time an energy into a more in-depth research and a formalised selection process for the invites to the Supersprint, so you can expect the fastest, toughest and most entertaining race to date.

The whole idea with the Supersprint is not to just go for the big Swimrun names but instead go for a mix of different disciplines. I mean we have Swimrun World Champions along with Triathlon Sprint Champions, Olympic Swimmers, merited sprinters, Swedish National Champions swimmers, soon to be WC swimrunners as well as some more off the grid racers and young guns in our Local Legends and Wild Card selections.

Is the Supersprint an attainable goal for a keen swimrunner who isn’t necessarily in the elite/pro category?

Theoretically yes. Realistically, probably not. The athletes in this race are so incredibly fast that you and I as mere mortals have no chance. I actually did a lap on the course before last year’s event and my time was about 1.5 minutes after Hugo Tormentos record time of 5.55 and would have placed me last in all female heats. That says quite a bit about how awesome they all are. But then again, you may remember the Australian speed skater who took gold in the 2002 Olympics when all the faster racers infront crashed and fell…so there is a chance and with the last spot on the starting line being the Time Trial qualifier I am more than happy to be proven wrong.

Where speed is everything, what is your #1 tip for success on the race course?

We expected more tactical racing than we have seen so far, with the group of 4-6 racers pacing each other and one or two trying to break free on the first run or the swim section. But as you say, it’s all about speed and when the start goes, they all go tearing down the 100m hill (Stallbacken) trying to secure a clean exit and position into the flatter running section past the castle. From what we have seen, there is percentage wise way more to gain on the swim than on the run. In direct contrast to most normal Swimrun races where a 10% faster run gains you a much greater lead than 10% faster swimming. My advice would therefore be to go fast as you can on the run keeping close calls on your competitors, but make sure to not blow your engine going into the swim, because that will be brutal. Usually, the order the racers transition after the swim into the second and final short run is the order they cross the finish line and only once or twice have we seen a close finish race up the hill.

The chasing starts concept seems to have gained traction, what is your take on other organisers now doing similar? 

I totally understand why as it is a super cool concept. We are humbled that the mighty ÖtillÖ have decided to copy it from us for the Final 15, and I would lie if I said we didn’t enjoy the fact that so many racers made comments about that directly to us and in social media when they launched it as a “new concept” without attributing us.

There are several reasons we believe it’s the best way to start our race. Firstly, how many races (swimrun, running, cycling etc) have you been to when you see the Elite group start and only to see them again a few hours later when they have showered and are just waiting for the prize ceremony. With our concept, you will both see and experience their speed, as they chase you and most probably pass you on the course. A challenge for them to get to the front of the field and inspiring for us normal racers to see.

Secondly it gives us as an organizer a really cool way to introduce ALL our racers to the spectators and make them all feel special and welcome. As the speaker I love being able to present every last racer by name and team name and encourage the crowd to give them a big round of applause.

A new look / revised Long Course for 2024, tell us about the changes?

We trim the course every year and ask for, and listen, to a lot of feedback from our racers. They are the experts and trust us to deliver a challenging, safe and inspiring course. This year some of the major changes include lengthening the course by 1.5k so we can reach a small island restaurant called Bockholmen. The course will go straight through their garden bar and they will have music, an energy station and full EX party for all Long racers before they do maybe the coldest and most challenging swim due to currents across a narrow channel. We have also added two extra swims to the Long course which will guarantee all racers to have a near moose experience literally crossing the Moose Shallow.

The most interesting and new change we have made however, is to offer all racers a choice for the last swim after the Falcon Mountain Base Jump. Some of the feedback we got was that the final 950m swim probably scares some more novice swimmers from joining our race, especially if we have colder conditions, and we really want to be “for everyone”. Therefore, we will offer an alternative exit after about 350m of 950m swimming which will lead to an about 1.2k run first up and then around parts of the Falcon Mountain. It will not be faster than swimming the entire section but we think it will be appreciated by the racers that choose it.

Will the base jump be making a return after a year in retirement?

Yes, we are so happy to have found a really cool local event company that build stages for concerts, who will help us and build the jump this year. We took them to the jump site and with their experience it was a no brainer how to build and secure the jump on the mountain side. So, this year, not matter if we have high or low water levels in Edsviken, we will be jumping a minimum of 6m from Falcon Mountain. We will within shortly present our jump sponsor who will create a really cool experience for all, even those that choose the “chicken line” and traverse the mountain and do an extra 75k swim past the jump zone!

For the enthusiastic swimrunner who can run 10km in 50 minutes and swim 3km in an hour, how hard would you say the Long Course is? 

It’s hard if you make it hard! What I mean is on our course we have I think the highest SWIFA (SwimFactor) of all races in Sweden with approximately 20-22% swimming on both courses. The running sections are mostly pretty easy and not too technical, so you can really push hard if you want to without risking falling and injuring yourself. With the pursuit concept and racers chasing you all the time, there will also be an unconscious extra push as well. With that said, it’s also a course you can really enjoy with scenic surroundings, with a royal castles in each end, and lots of happy “muggles” (Harry Potter fans take note) cheering racers on along the whole course.

What next for EX Swimrun? Any plans for different formats or races?

Over the last year and a half, we have seen some major shifts in the direction Swimrun is being drive, towards a more competitive and generic sport a lot like Triathlon and Iron Man. Therefore, we feel it is our duty as early adopters of the sport to embrace and try to maintain the community driven atmosphere and familiar vibe that Swimrun has had over the years.

Therefore, we are constantly trying new things with the mantra “for the love of the sport” as our driving force. Our goal is to try to have a race, concept and experience for everyone on the Swimrun spectrum no matter where you are. This year’s new concept launch is the EX Safari Tour which will be a 36 hour Swimrun experience in the outer most outpost of the Stockholm Archipelago, where only keen sailors and adventure driven kayakers go. We will divide into two groups and switch between Swimrunning in its purest form and paddling sea kayaks to reach the island of Bullerö totally unsupported. We will be in the most beautiful part of the island wonderland between Sandhamn and Nämndö and I can guarantee this will be a totally unique experience where group dynamics are key. At Bullerö we will stay the night and enjoy a very cool swimrun session under the midnight sun with only the horizon to the east. Day two will take us all the way down to Nämndö and Solvik before we head back up to Runmarö and the goal in Stavsnäs where pizza and beer awaits us. We have more info on our site and you really need to be on top of your swimming game to register as the SWIFA will be between 30-45%.

So, under the EX-brand we now have the ARK Supersprint for the fastest of the fast. EX Long for the more experienced Swimrunners and EX Short for the more curious beginners. The EX Super Safari rogaining concept for the adventure and comradery seeking Swimrunner. Along with all these concept, Elisabet also organizes the Swimruncupen Stockholm, which is a great place to test Swimrun for the first time or try to keep up with a World Champ.

Check out all our concepts and races on www.exswimrun.se

Fred Newton

Fred is the Editor and co-founder of swimrun.com. He has actively been involved with the sport of swimrun as an enthusiastic participant, race director, volunteer and journalist.

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