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Swimrun Italy: Aquaticrunner IWC World Championship – The Ultimate Solo Swimrun

For many athletes, endurance sport is a uniquely solo endeavour. Whether it’s a triathlon, Ironman, or an ultramarathon, many endurance sports are about pushing your own mental and physical abilities to their breaking point. In the end, these races are a two-person competition: between you and your own mind.

However, swimrun has developed a unique persona in the world of endurance sport. No longer is it about one person’s skills, but two people. From the very beginnings, swimrun has been about how to people can work best together to complete an incredible challenge. That was, until Aquaticrunner was born.

In 2014, this Italy-based swimrun challenge deviated from the swimrun norm by positioning itself as a solo-competitors-only race. While team swimrun races have their own challenges, a solo race may be even more challenging. Now, Aquaticrunner founded by Matteo Benedetti has grown to be an entire Italian Swimrun series, with the original Aquaticrunner in Grado and Lignano becoming the IWC World Championship. Here, we dive into the race and what to expect if you’re competing in this year’s ninth edition of Aquaticrunner on the 18th September 2022.

Why participate in Aquaticrunner IWC World Championship?

Aquaticrunner was Italy’s very first swimrun, as well as the first swimrun event in the world to take place in warmer waters. But don’t get cocky —the warm water may make it a more pleasant outing, but it’s still as much a challenge as swimrun courses in places such as the UK or Sweden.

The race takes place between a small group of islands in the Adriatic Sea, in the region of FriuliVenezia Giulia. Starting at the small town of Grado, competitors make their way through 19 swimming and running transitions across the Marano Lagoon to Lignano Sabbiadoro. The total race distance is 27.1km, encompassing 5.15km of swimming and 21.75km of running.

While there are now other Mediterranean swimruns— for example in Sardinia — Aquaticrunner is known for its unique landscape. The Marano Lagoon is a haven for protected flora and fauna, and makes for an undeniably memorable race.

While it may have first been created as a test of how Grado and Lignano Sabbiadoro could be linked, today it’s a key event in the swimrun calendar, especially in the Italian Swimrun series. As the fourth solo swimrun World Championship, 275 athletes from 23 nations battle for the title every year.

What are the rules?

In the first Aquaticrunner iteration, competitors were only allowed to use pull buoys and no paddles. Today, though paddles, pull buoys, and shoe flotation devices may all be used.

The race takes place along a designated track (no charting your own course like on events like the Frog Graham Round), which means that cutting buoys or flags is also prohibited

How can I qualify?

Every year, there are just 275 spaces for Aquaticrunner IWC World Championship in Grado. Out of this number, 150 spaces are reserved for athletes from the previous year, 75 for individual registrations, and 50 for qualifying athletes.

Eligible qualifying races may differ each year. For example ,the Canadian based Mudskipper Series has partnered with Aquaticrunner and has four qualifying races for the World Individual Swimrun Championships.

You can also register for one of the 75 individual spaces. To be eligible, you must have complete one of the valid endurance races: for example, you must have run an Ironman distance in the last four years or one ultramarathon in the last two years.

Aquaticrunner returns on the 23rd September 2023

Aquaticrunner IWC World Championship returns in September. For more information, you can visit aquaticrunner.com

Abigail Lister

Abi is a sports writer

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