Sunday, 8 July 2018

7 Reservoirs Swim Run

I missed last year's inaugural 7 Reservoirs Swim Run so was keen to make the event this year held on Monday 25th June. The "event" is an informal non-racy jaunt loosely based on the 7 Reservoirs running race. About 12miles long and mostly running, but crossing each of the 7 reservoirs of the Pentlands, swimming. Since it is too hot to run 12 miles in a full length wetsuit there were various kit options. The weather was scorchio during the day and tempted those taking part to underdress if anything. It really didn't feel as if it could get cold, later on. (But it did!)

We gathered at 6.30pm in Bonaly car park. Mike and Jim were the motivating forces/organisers behind this. There were the usual Monday evening open water (Carnethy) swim crew in attendance but also a few proper swimmers from tri-clubs etc. and I think there were about 20 in all at the start. Last year I believe there weren't much more than a handful did it. Word had got about that it was a great event.

Not sure why but we did the reservoirs in the reverse order they occur in the running race, but starting from the midpoint of that race. I do like Bonaly as it's nearer home for the cycle - about 40mins rather than a full hour for Balerno. We ran up to Bonaly Reservoir and much to the amusement no doubt of the folk there having BBQs and early evening drinks in the glorious sunshine, marched into the water and swam to the other side.

I had been one of the last into the water - taking photos of the first immersion while the camera was still dry - and was one of the last out. The standard of swimming was higher than the usual Monday evening and that encouraged everyone not to hang about on the swim. It was bracing getting into the water but not cold. In fact after the run up the hill, the cool water was fairly welcomed. This was my first time in Bonaly and it seemed quite a long swim across. Possibly the second longest swim of the evening, the longest by far being Threipmuir. 

As you can see the choice of outfit varied. A lot of folk wore tri-suits, which were ideal for the first half but feeling a bit skimpy and cold towards the end for those like Jamie with insufficient insulation. I think only Mark wore a full wetsuit which he pulled down to his waist while running, and wondered at what temperature his quads would boil. Several enjoyed the warmth of a shorty wetsuit - some specific run/swim shorty suits, while others myself included wore a rash vest/top and swimming shorts. I had bought a long sleeved rash top online and was pleased when it arrived. Like a tight fitting stretchy fleece it was water repellent and didn't bag out while swimming. I wore Speedo swim shorts over lycra running shorts for some insulation and normal trail shoes (Speedgoat 2s) and socks. They felt as heavy as diving boots when swimming, so there is room for improvement there. 

We regrouped after the first swim and headed sedately over to Glencorse. It was a beautiful evening for a run and I was glad I had taken the camera even though it was a drag, literally, when swimming. I attached it with a climbing leash to a bumbag round my waist. It wouldn't do to drop it while in the water unless secured.

It felt strange to round a corner then randomly climb the fence at Glencorse and get into the water. However it was a nice short swim and although the route on the other side was a bit "technical" we all seemed to manage the scramble up to the single track. It became evident each of the reservoirs would have a different character. This one was colder no doubt due to the steep drop offs at the edge (the sun warming the shallows of Bonaly). 

Jeff opted to shadow us running (often from a fair height above) rather than swim.

Next up Loganlea. Since this one is a favourite with the anglers we snuck up the dam side from the East then as a group made a surprise attack across the eastern flank. There were no anglers nearby and the only one we saw asked if we had seen any fish. From there we ran round the side of Black Hill until we could see Threipmuir then climbed the fence and headed cross-country in a straight-ish line for the biggest swim of the evening.

another shallow reservoir, some adopted the policy of walking 
as far as possible before commencing the swim!

It was notable that it felt far further than usual. A sign that the business of running and swimming is more taxing than either individual activity. The body is fighting the cold to maintain a core temperature against the cold wet outfit and this in addition to the exercise does take it's toll. Also, on a personal note I hadn't eaten anything since my packed lunch at work. I then cycled to Bonaly and had been going at it for an hour or 2. Tracy gave me a Shotblok which was VERY welcome and might have just saved my life! I hadn't actually considered that I could/SHOULD have carried something to eat. Mark asked me to put some dates for him in my bumbag. They were in a ziplock baggie but were slightly more rehydrated than when he gave me them at the start.

I wasn't the only one feeling the cold. The girls felt the need of a huddle while waiting for the last of the Threipmuir swimmers. I think Joel is considering joining the huddle too. And this is the problem of a larger group. The more diverse the ability range, the longer folk have to wait, if we stick together. I have suggested if there are this many participants next time we should have a faster and slower group. The folk in tri-suits were very keen to get moving again, which again made for a larger gap between the faster runner/swimmers and those behind.

a nice and short crossing of Harlaw

Each immersion was harder and colder. Fortunately they were short ones to finish. The sun was below the yard arm and people were flagging, and keen to know how little was still left. 

Comparisons of Raynaud's
Sarah on left beats Lucy hands down

Late evening standing around in a wet swimsuit!
Oh and the flies, did I mention our constant companions the flies?!

2nd last immersion - Clubbiedean
romantic light and cool cool water

nettles and barbed wire

a timely reminder

We ran round Torduff, the final reservoir, before swimming the far end just this side of the damhead walkway. Another cool deep one due to the sharply raked edges. Tricky entry point. But clear so you could admire the fish and the leg kicks of those alongside. By now I was just hanging in there and keen to finish. I was greatly admiring of Jeff who had been recording our progress from a distance but returned in sync - you can see his silhouette top right in the above photo

Jeff in yellow top

nearly done!

Back to Bonaly!

and relax!

What a great way to spend a Monday evening! I would advise a rash vest in addition to a tri-suit. Or a shorty run/swim wetsuit. I felt my kit, of warm long sleeved rash top and shorts was good, but I was feeling the cold when standing waiting. Those in tri-suits looked nearly hypothermic and this on the warmest day of the year to date. Rachel was about to cycle home in her wet tri-suit until I insisted she wear my scabby work jumper which she says was very welcome. I changed into dry clothes for the cycle home which was a good idea. I had been tempted to cycle in wet kit because I couldn't be bothered with the faff of changing. Dinner at 11pm was VERY welcome. (First substantial food in 10hrs.) Really great endeavour and thanks to Mike and Jim for setting it up.

12 miles total, including swims, done clockwise
(though I suspect anti-clockwise might be as good if not better)

Link to excellent timelapse of us swimming across Theipmuir that Jeff took. Although it looks distant and as if not much happens the more you look the more you see. Sheep, boats, all good stuff!
Click Here.

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