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Discover Swimrun Tâmega, The Star Of Northern Portugal Winding Through A Verdant Landscape

Swimrun Tâmega is a gorgeous swimrun course set around a stunning river, less than an hour away from Porto in Northern Portugal. There are three distances on offer, a 19km Sprint, 34km Standard and 42km Marathon course. The 42km course is a prestigious ÖTILLÖ merit race, where athletes must perform at their best to qaulify for the ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship.

Portuguese based, Sergio Moreira is the Race Director for Swimrun Tâmega. He is straight talking and passionate swimrunner who has created one of the finest swimrun courses in all of Europe (Swimrun Tâmega was a runner up for ‘best race of the year’ in our annual awards).

Swimrun was an unexpected discovery for Sergio, while browsing the internet, he stumbled across Rockman Swimrun and without any prior experience or knowledge about the sport, Sergio and his partner, Filipe Bras embarked on one of the toughest swimrun adventure’s in the world as two fearless Portuguese. Rockman inspired Sergio, who loved the opportunity to enter and exit the water in unlikely places, jump off rocks and explore incredible landscapes that left him breathless. The legendary climb with 4444 steps was one of the most memorable moments of his sporting career.

Since then, he has become a passionate fan of the sport, which has allowed him to discover a new way of exploring nature and pushing his own limits. Swimrun is undoubtedly a unique and thrilling experience that he would recommend to anyone seeking challenging adventures.

What is the swimrun community like in Portugal?

The swimrun community in Portugal is still in its infancy. Most athletes are triathletes and open water swimmers, but the community has been growing in recent years, with trail runners and athletes from other sports trying out the discipline. A greater effort is needed to promote the sport to the Portuguese people. For this reason, at Swimrun Tâmega, we have focused on training children to ensure sustainable growth of the sport. We have been pioneers in offering the discipline to kids since they are the future of any sport.

There is a lot of work to be done both in promoting and creating more races at the national level. There is a significant asymmetry in the distribution of races throughout the country, with almost all of them located in the south, while Swimrun Tâmega is the only race in the north of Portugal.

What can participants expect at Swimrun Tâmega?

Portuguese people are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality, so participants can expect to feel right at home in Portugal.
The organising team consists of athletes who are passionate about creating a great race experience and bringing the best of their own experiences to the event.
The Tâmega valley scenery is incredible, and we’ve worked hard to design a course that will suit all levels of athletes, with a balance between running and swimming. Participants can expect a unique, challenging, and enjoyable experience.

The race takes place in a beautiful natural setting, with stunning landscapes and challenges that involve both swimming and running on trails and rural roads. Additionally, participants can look forward to a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship, with fellow athletes encouraging and supporting each other.
The event is well organised, with proper signage, hydration stations, and safety measures throughout the race. Expect magnificent landscapes, just the right amount of toughness, fast moments on wide roads, technical running sections, and thrilling descents – because, as you know, what goes down must have gone up first!

What is the atmosphere like?

The setting where the Swimrun Tâmega takes place is incredibly beautiful and the weather in June is usually fantastic. Additionally, the volunteer team is amazing, and the audience is incredible, creating a brilliant atmosphere. To help liven up the race, there are points with music along the course. Last year, we had a saxophonist who enlivened the climb to the Capela de Rio de Moinhos, creating an incredible atmosphere with athletes dancing at the top of the staircase. The atmosphere of the Swimrun Tâmega is lively and energetic. Participants gather at the start of the race, anxious and ready to face the challenges of the running and swimming that await them. There is a sense of camaraderie and unity, with athletes encouraging and supporting each other throughout the race.

The stunning landscape of the Tâmega valley helps create an inspiring and motivating atmosphere for participants, who are encouraged to overcome themselves amidst the natural beauty that surrounds them. At the end of the race, the feeling of achievement is palpable, and the celebration is lively, with music and food for all participants, their families, and friends. In summary, the atmosphere of the Swimrun Tâmega is one of unity, achievement, beauty, and celebration.

What do you think is the most challenging part of the course for athletes?

The course presents three particularly difficult moments. The first moment is the swimming, which begins with a 1200-metre segment. For athletes who are not strong swimmers, this part can generate some fear, especially when crossing the Duarte Pacheco bridge, where the bottom seems imposing. However, the passage over the bridge is an incredible experience that makes any existing fear disappear.

The second moment is what I like to call the “wall”. The exit of the second segment is incredible, as athletes see the dam in the background and must wonder, “How are we going to get out of here?” It is at this moment that they encounter a short but very demanding vertical climb.

Finally, the third moment is the need to maintain regularity throughout the three distances. Nobody has an advantage, as the long swimming segments and some difficulties in the course force athletes to maintain a constant and regular effort to successfully complete the race.

What’s the highlight of this course?

The highlight of Swimrun Tâmega is undoubtedly the river. The course follows the Tâmega River, jumping from one bank to another from its mouth to Alpendurada.

The river is the driving force of the race, and athletes are amazed by the beauty of the river and the calmness of its waters.

The passage over the Duarte Pacheco bridge is truly an incredible and memorable moment for many athletes, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Tâmega River valley. Additionally, the demanding short vertical climb in the second segment is seen as a significant challenge by athletes, adding an element of excitement and challenge to the course. Overall, Swimrun Tâmega is a challenging and exciting race that combines the best of nature with a great athletic challenge.

And your best piece of advice for any first-time swimrunners doing the event?

The Tâmega Swimrun can be easily achievable for any athlete who knows how to swim, with the help of equipment such as the ARK pull buoy and swimming fins, which assist in crossing the swimming segments. Additionally, the Tâmega River does not have strong currents or waves in June, which makes swimming even more peaceful. It is a calm water body that provides a pleasant and safe experience for swimmers. Throughout the course, athletes will not feel alone, as there will be rescue boats, support kayaks, and paddleboards accompanying them. Safety is the organisation’s priority, ensuring a well-monitored race with all the necessary support so that participants can fully enjoy the experience.

There are several swimrun equipment brands in the market, adapted to different levels of athletes and with affordable prices. Personally, Sergio recommends the ARK Sports equipment. Even though the water temperature is acceptable in June, to perform the race with a tri-suit, it is important to remember that the bottom part of the Tâmega river has a colder temperature due to the influence of the Douro river and being in a darker valley with less sunlight to warm up the water. ARK equipment will make a difference in swimming with its buoyancy and aerodynamics. The pull buoy and the brand’s equipment carrying top will also help the athlete overcome the challenge of the Tâmega river more easily.

Swimrun Tâmega returns on the 4th June 2023.

For more information and to register for the race, you can visit the Swimrun Tâmega website here.

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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