The Cumbrian fells are a special place. They are in equal parts beautiful, mysterious, ominous and exhilarating. The traditional Breca Buttermere summer hailstorms aside, the experience of the hills is inherently unpredictable - the going can change in a moment and without warning.
And so it was at Breca Buttermere 2017. Swimrunners had to grapple with just about every condition imaginable as they completed their journey through the hills, contending not just with difficult climbs and technical descents, but windswept swim stages that sent white-caps scudding across the lakes.
The 2017 edition saw 171 teams lined up to test themselves in the fells. It's humbling to see the growth in the sport - from 14 teams at the inaugural 2015 edition, to 92 in 2016, to where we are today. Also, it's wonderful that so many of these teams were first-time swimrunners - we're so excited to welcome you all to the swimrun community.
There are no two ways about it - this is a brutal race - a course that has to be experienced to be believed! - and every team should be justifiably proud of their achievement.
First place was contested by Alan Scott and Knut Baadshaug of team Die Sparkle Wunderbruderz and André Hook and Wolfgang Grohé of Team Campz.com. Although the Wunderbruderz lead the field from the start, they were pushed hard by Team Campz.com who kept the gap between 3 and 5 minutes for much of the race. It was only once they reached the fells that Scott and Baadshaug put the hammer down to increase their advantage to 20 minutes, a lead that proved to be unassailable. Team No Goubunku - Onoda Baynham-Hughes and Onoda Wilcock - also capitalised on a strong performance in the hills, jumping from 6th to 3rd place at the finish.
First place in the Women's category was won by Kat Berry and Claire Shea-Simonds of team Two Broke Girls in a time of 6 hours 59 minutes. They paced their race perfectly, moving from 20th overall at checkpoint point 2 to 10th at the finish, an amazing performance for the first time swimrunners. Second place was taken by Jenny Rice and Claire Wilson of Girls Wot Can in their second Breca Buttermere outing, having raced and won the inaugural edition in 2015. Third place was taken by Margarita Grigoriadi and Nicola Roper of Tyne Triathlon who also improved their position as the day wore on and finished half an hour ahead of the next team.
The Mixed category was won with a commanding performance by Stuart MacLeod and Bonnie van Wilgenburg of team Bonnie and the Beast, who finished 4th overall in 6 hours and 13 minutes, putting 52 minutes into their nearest rival. Prophets of Poseidon - Marie Meldrum and Craig Dring - placed second in 7 hours and 6 minutes, closely followed by Martin Andersen and Julia Andersen of team Huss and Whiff in third.
The Breca Buttermere Sprint was won in commanding style by Timothy Murphy and Max Wolke of team Budgie Smugglers Intl. The Australian / German combo finished 19 minutes clear of second placed Off the Hook - Toby Hook and Marcus Hook - a dominating performance over the distance. Third place was hotly contested between Lincoln tri, Doc and Dumber and DB SQUAT, with Andrew Walpole and David Ledward of Doc and Dumber securing their spot on the podium at the last gasp.
The Sprint Women's category was a closely fought race, with the gap between first and second as little as 1 minute for much of the day. In the end, Victoria Horrocks and Michelle Woodrow of the Yorkshire Roses emerged victorious, closely followed by Hilary Jenkinson and Deborah Meghen of the Wicklow Seals in second and Sarah Holton and Sophie Lawson of the Howgill Hippos in third.
The Mixed category was hard fought for, and saw some amazing performances all round. Cathy and Jonathan Russell of Team Russell came first in a time of 2 hours 46 minutes, a fantastic performance that placed them 3rd overall. They were closely followed by Nick Flower and Rebecca Goodwin of The Monkeys who came 2nd in category and 4th overall. Third place was won by the Flying Kiplingos - Milly Kipling and Mike Kipling - who claimed a top 10 finish, an impressive result in a competitive field.
Thanks to all the volunteers who gave up their time and worked so hard to make the event happen, you were all amazing.
A huge thank you too to our sponsors, Orca, inov-8 and TRIBE. Without their help the event would not be possible, we're really grateful for their support. Finally, thanks to the National Trust, the landowners on the course and the Cumbrian residents for hosting us so warmly and generously.
To download all the race images for free and in high resolution visit the Breca Swimrun flickr page.
Photo credit: Wildman Media
Breca Buttermere Results
1st: Die Sparkle Wunderbruderz - Knut Baadshaug & Alan Scott, 5:26
2nd: Team CAMPZ.com - André Hook & Wolfgang Grohé, 5:49
3rd: No Goubunku - Onoda Baynham-Hughes & Onoda Wilcock, 6:11
1st: Two Broke Girls - Kat Berry & Claire Shea-Simonds, 6:59
2nd: Girls Wot Can - Jenny Rice & Claire Wilson, 7:16
3rd: Tyne Triathlon - Margarita Grigoriadi & Nicola Roper, 7:33
1st: Bonnie and the Beast - Stuart MacLeod & Bonnie van Wilgenburg, 6:13
2nd: Prophets of Poseidon - Marie Meldrum & Craig Dring, 7:06
3rd: Huss and Whiff - Martin Andersen & Julia Andersen, 7:09
Click here to download the full course results.
Breca Buttermere Sprint Results
1st: Budgie Smugglers Intl - Timothy Murphy & Max Wolke, 2:24
2nd: Off the Hook - Toby Hook & Marcus Hook, 2:43
3rd: Doc and Dumber - Andrew Walpole & David Ledward, 2:51
1st: Yorkshire Roses - Victoria Horrocks & Michelle Woodrow, 3:16
2nd: Wicklow Seals - Hilary Jenkinson & Deborah Meghen, 3:20
3rd: Howgill Hippos - Sarah Holton & Sophie Lawson, 3:31
1st: Team Russell - Cathy Russell & Jonathan Russell, 2:46
2nd: The Monkeys - Nick Flower & Rebecca Goodwin, 2:49
3rd: Flying Kiplingos - Milly Kipling & Mike Kipling, 3:01
Click here to download the sprint course results.