Mike Phillips and Nick Rennie of team Philliberry won the inaugural Breca Wanaka in an amazing time of 5 hours 55 minutes. Here they share the secrets of their success:

Tell us about yourselves

Mike: I am a 26 year old from Christchurch, New Zealand. Throughout the years I have played a lot of sports but in recent years have been focusing on half and full iron distance triathlon.

Nick: I grew up in Christchurch, going to the same school as Mike. I am currently living in Auckland completing my studies. I come from a running background and have been racing in the ITU short course triathlons.

How did you prepare for race day? Did you practise together or was this your first outing as a team?

This was the first outing for the team. We did a few trials in the pool by ourselves and compared notes. We tested different combinations of paddles/pull buoy/ shoes/ flippers and pieced together a rough plan for the race based on the course.

 Did you have a strategy going into the race and did you stick to it? 

We are both new to Swimrun racing so we didn't know what to expect or how fast our fellow competitors were. Our plan was to get out in front early and try and hold on, which we stuck to. Nick had some flippers we were keeping for the longer swims, but after the first swim we decided we would use them for every swim.

Tell us about the experience of Breca Wanaka – highs, lows, favourite part of the course

The first part of the race was great, we were both feeling good and we were relaxed. We took a bit of a detour allowing the team behind to nearly catch us, this was when panic stations hit and we really pushed the long swim and long run to get back out of sight. The long swim seemed take a long time every time we looked up it didn't look like the other side had got any closer! The whole course was spectacular, but our favourite part of the course for us was the final 10-15km following the western side of the lake. The views and geography are amazing.

Did you do anything special with your equipment, did it work?

We took our shoes off for the majority of the swims which I think helped us reduce drag in the water. Nick ran across Ruby Island with his flippers on to save some transition time which was a bit of a laugh!

This is a new format for you. What did you learn about swimrun from your first race?

We learnt that navigation is a big part of the race. We would probably study the course a bit more for the next one. Equipment was also crucial, we used Orca Core Swimrun suits, which had pockets and was made to run in. It would be a long way to run in a triathlon wetsuit.

How would you summarise the swimrun experience?

It was a spectacular race. A lot of the course isn't publicly accessible so we feel privileged to have been able to experience the tracks and trails in the race. It is also a very long way and we are still recovering one week after! 

What’s next for you?

We are racing in a few international half ironman events, however we are now considering doing a few more swimrun races over in Europe!