Breca Buttermere – my first swim run!

August 15, 2019

Thanks to this blog, It’s not unusual to get invited to the odd event, be it a half marathon or a sportive – and sometimes, a really cool one crops up that I find myself saying yes to without even thinking/looking into it.

You might remember the time I said yes to the 25 hour cycle event through the night just two weeks after an ironman… or the time I did Neptune Steps in 5 degree waters… both the kind of crazy events that I say yes to and turn up blindly unaware of what I have signed myself up for. Breca Buttermere was the same.

So what is it you ask?

Date: 11th August 2019 | Run:39km | Swim:6km | Transitions:24 | Total length:45km | Ascent: 1,750m

“Imagine a land of extremes: the home of England’s highest mountain and its deepest lake. An ancient landscape of craggy hilltops, mountain tarns, rugged trails and glittering lakes. That place is the Lake District National Park, and for centuries it has captivated the imagination of adventurers, explorers and intellectuals alike.

This is the setting for Breca Buttermere – the UK’s original swimrun race. The courses will test you on many levels: the lakes are cold and deep; the ascents are steep and the descents are technical. It’s a course that favours the complete athlete.”

Basically a lot of swimming and running mixed together through the Lake District – all to be done within 10 meters of your chosen partner.

If you’ve followed me here for a while, you know I’m not the most organised person you will come across (understatement of the year), so as you can imagine, I did one swim in my trainers, no runs in my wetsuit, never ran or swam with my partner, didn’t look into the appropriate accessories/mandatory kit and had absolutely no idea what was about to happen.

What do you need? (essentials)

  • A swim-run wetsuit (I opted not to wear the calf sleeves)
  • Goggles
  • Trainers
  • A whistle
  • A re-useable cup

What a lot of people had which I didn’t:

  • Paddles
  • Pull Bouy
  • Swim-run bag to store things like food in
  • An idea of what was about to happen


I would put a ‘where to stay’, but apparently this year was the final year of Buttermere! We stayed a short walk away from registration (though we did in fact drive it due to the awful weather!), which was also an easy walk into the town to carb up on pasta (and gin!)

Race Day

Naturally I had no idea until turning up that we were all to get on coaches to take us to the race start… we blindly copied everyone who had opted to run in their swimming caps (obviously we had no idea how long each segment was going to be.)

The first run was around 3 miles which was a nice warm up in the cold weather, it was also absolutely beautiful and it was quite a pleasant surprise that the wetsuit wasn’t uncomfortable to run in.

The first swim – it was beautiful I will admit, but it literally felt like the longest swim of my life!! I really struggled against the current and was much slower than my partner Becca.

I really enjoyed the run segments – it is such a beautiful part of the UK and it’s definitely somewhere I want to come back for more running adventures. It felt like we did much more swimming then running (not the case, I’m just dramatic), and I felt like I got progressively worse!!

The volunteers/Breca staff were the friendliest/most positive people I have ever experienced in a race – even standing there cold in the awful weather!! The food stations were good: water, electrolyte, banana, energy bar, jaffa cakes, jelly babies and salty potatoes!!

It was realllly hard for me due to the swim, but it was such a great race/challenge and I would definitely do another! You can watch a little of my day here.


Em x

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