Raceweek! It finally arrived, maybe not the way we hoped, but it’s here and we are raring to go. We’ve continued running but eased off on the swimming due to the fractured wrist our team acquired. The training in the lead up to the SwimRun was the most Jackson and I had ever done, completing at least 2-3 sessions a day around hikes and other adventures. We gave it everything, so we weren’t going to let this hiccup stop us from competing.
I wasn’t sure how to structure this blog post, because there is so much I could talk about. So my mate Matt from @fractelrunning sent me a few questions to break down the SwimRun.
How did the Bali-Hope Swim Run come about?
It all started thanks to the mastermind and visionary Tom Hickman. Tom this year had organised two Bali-Hope events, the first being the Ultra in May and the second being the SwimRun. In 2017, Tom raised $10000 in an attempt to run across Bali. A brave attempt took him far across the island but he was unable to make the full distance. Instead of stopping there, this inspired a dream to run an event that would host 15 driven people. The goal for the selected 15 was to run across Bali and raise money for the disadvantaged children of Bali in dire need of education. For every $1000 raised, this would provide scholarships for Balinese children, covering the entirety of their schooling. I went on to win the 84km Bali-Hope Ultra Marathon which is an achievement I am very proud of, however, it was the days that surrounded the race that I cherish the moment. The energy within the group was like something I had never experienced before. I then went on to spend a few weeks with Tom throughout the year as he developed the event, and I couldn’t resist but get involved with Bali-Hope again for the SwimRun. To be around another group of 20 inspiring people again, competing in a foreign race format, was a challenge and immersive experience I wanted to be a part of. A new twist on the SwimRun was the inclusion of a partner, so to call in my best mate Jacko to come along for the race and event was hugely exciting.
The Training involved in the SwimRun?
This year I’ve been running 70-80km a week average across this year, with a few bigger weeks here and there. However, it wasn’t till a month before the race Jackson and I started our swimming regime. Swimming is often hard on the road, unlike running where you can do it anywhere in the world. For example, when I was in the mountains of Norway and Jackson in the valleys of Panama, there are no places where we would be able to do swim training. I find you need to find yourself a solid base if you’re going to be doing consistent swim training.
A big thing that helped Jackson and I was our training in the heat and hills throughout the year. Some of the other teams had come from countries like Sweden where the temperatures were now below zero, so the extreme change in the heat made it very difficult for them.
This is what our training schedule has looked like.
Easy run – 12km
Tempo run + warm down.
Run total: 85-90km
Swim total: 11-12km
The mental strains of finding a way to train whilst you travel? – Asked by @fractelrunning
I’ve never really found training to be a mental strain whilst travelling as it’s always one of my top priorities. Usually, it’ll be a physical strain or a tough to find the time, especially if I’m on a job. However, whilst in countries like the Phillippines, Jackson and I would be starting at 5.40am every day to avoid the heat. This was the main mental grind as it was so easy to sleep in; yet if we did that, it was a guarantee that we would be roasted by the crazy humidity and heat of the Philippines.
For running is another way of exploring whilst I’m travelling. As I’ve said previously, I personally think it is one of the best ways to see a new country. It makes running so easy, as you are always being stimulated by the new environment you find yourself in. In 2018, some of my favourite moments and memories were from my runs around the world.
The race review in a nutshell?
Going into the race, I was excited and Jackson was a little nervous. Coming from an elite soccer background, it was his first time ever doing a race. We gathered and double checked that we had all our gear and off we went to the boat with the other athletes. The mix of athletes within the group was both exceptional and inspiring. Within the group, we had Annika who was a world champion at Otillo SwimRun and Logan, who was coming out of rehab. They were both here to make a stand in the individual ways.
We made it to the start line and jumped out the boat into the water. We were battling a bit already, trying to get our float and gear in the right position. Before we knew it, we were well into the first swim, and further, behind that we hoped for. We came out of the first swim 7th! Yikes, in my head I was thinking this was going to be a long race. We put the foot down as soon as we ran/stumbled) out the water and moved into third. The leaders were nowhere to be seen. Jackson joked about this being the most relaxing and quiet moment of our last two weeks as we ran through the mangroves on our own. The first leg was 8km and we did it solo and I thought the rest of the race was going to be like this. I knew we’d be strong on the run and hold our position but I didn’t think we’d have a chance of catching the two leading teams.
We made it across the second swim quicker than expected, mainly due to a strong current and then set out onto the next run leg. This leg was around the island of Nusa Ceningan, which had a large and very steep hill section in the middle. After doing hill running challenges in Norway, hiking and running hills most of the year, Jackson and I felt adequately equipped to take on the hill. We ran slowly ran the whole way up whilst being mindful not to blow up from the heat or going to hard. It was to our surprise that when we made it to the top of the hill, we found the other leading teams at the drink station. I said to Jacko, “Let’s make this drink real quick and put the foot down.” Sure enough, we did and we quickly overtook both of them. I think it took the other teams by surprise, and as we overtook them, I gained a lot of energy. It’s one of my favorite things about racing, the energy you can pull off other when you move up a position. I had to be careful not to get too carried away, but Jackson and I stormed down the hill and tried to put as much ground on the other two teams before the next swim. We were leading! I couldn’t believe it. We entered the third swim leg in first position, but this was tough swim. It was an out and back swim against a very strong side current. When we made it to the buoy, all three leading teams were going around it at the same time. This was the highlight of the race for me, being next to the world champions and boys from Perth (Elite swimmers) in a head to head battle. Like the other two swims, they powered ahead.
They were in reach in on the third run but we knew we were about to head into the longest swim of the day back across the channel. The tide had lifted and so had the strength of the current. They two leading teams were now uncatchable in the water, their pace far superior to ours.
On the last run leg, we gave it everything we had. The boys from Perth were slightly ahead, but they were also giving it everything they had. We made it across the line in third place, a result we were very stoked on. It was an absolute pleasure to race alongside Annika/Peter (Swedish winning team), and Paul/Brad from Perth (Second). They really opened my eyes to the swimming world, as they for a long time, have been swimming more kilometers a week than I run. Crazy!
The reason why the event was actually held?
This is an excerpt taken from Jackson’s article, which you can find here
to read in further detail:
“Bali Hope Foundation has organized a Swim Run event. This Nordic event involves swimming and running in continual segments without taking off your swim cap, shoes or gear. It’s pretty extreme.
20 competitors from around the world are coming to Nusa Lembongan for the swim run. The founder of Otillo Swim Run, the women’s world champs and the #1 Indonesia triathlete are just a few of the competitors so it will be a quality field. Each competitor is raising at least $2000USD.”
What is the aim of providing the $40,000 USD?
The aim of providing the $40,000 in the form of new infrastructure, facilities, personnel and collection trucks is to create a system that is capable of dealing with all trash the island produces (and that washes up on its shore from elsewhere)
The specific items that have been priorities for purchase are:
In May 2019, I’ll be heading back to defend my title at the Bali-Hope Ultra. In the lead up I hope to knock out a few PBs over the shorter distances, e.g. 5km and half marathon. In the second half of the year I’ll look to see what I can do in a marathon with the base of training I would have accumulated by then.
Thank you, everyone, for the support in the lead up to the event. Without my friends, family, readers, and followers on Instagram, it would have been very tough to hit my $2000USD. And above all, thank you to Tom. It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of the first two Bali-Hope events. It’s a credit to him the way he attracts and brings together groups of amazing people from all around the world. I look forward to being apart of them next year. If you want to be a part of them, you too can join here.
You can read more into it here from Jackon’s blogs!