Q: What are the main differences between triathlon and swimrun?

In triathlon, athletes compete in three successive sports-- swimming, biking and running, usually in that order--with short transitions between sports to quickly change equipment.  Some triathlons allow relay teams to participate so that each leg can be completed by a different team member.  In swimrun, athletes compete as a team, and together, they alternate swimming legs with running legs several times along the course.  There are no real "transitions" that involve a change of equipment, since athletes (must) carry every piece of equipment with them throughout the race.  This means that if you swim in a wetsuit, you will be running in it as well; and whatever you wear on your feet while running you will also be swimming in.

Unlike triathlon, you can use other swimming equipment--e.g., paddles, fins, and pull buoys--as long as you are prepared to carry them with you for the entire duration of the race.  As partners, you must also stay together, for safety reasons (you will always have someone with you to provide immediate assistance)--preferably not more than 10 meters apart throughout the race.

Q: Why are teams tethered in swimrun events? 

Tethering is sometimes required in the swim portion of longer swimrun events, so that pairs can more easily stay together in open water.  Besides improving swimmers ability to take turns drafting each other, the safety benefit from a race director's standpoint is significant--every participant has a partner looking out for them, both in open water and on the trails.  Staying together throughout a race on challenging terrain also encourages teamwork, and creates a different mindset from triathlon, which is mostly an individualized sport. Teams have been disqualified if they are not within 10 meters of each other at all times.  Given the short swims and flat runs in this event, tethering is not required in the Kelowna Urban SwimRun, but we encourage you to stay together.

Q: Can I do the event without a partner?

Yes, but only for the short course event, since it has nothing but shallow (walkable!) swims.  Since pairing is a requirement for most swimruns due to the added safety benefit, we encourage everyone to pair up to gain the experience of racing as a team.  If you do not have a partner, most events will offer a pool of other solo athletes to contact and pair up with. If necessary, contact the organizers if you want or need a partner for either course.

Q: What are the equipment requirements for a swimrun?

Most equipment requirements are optional, and will depend on air and water temperature, the terrain, your swimming abilities, and your personal preferences.  Most races require their supplied, numbered jersey and numbered swim cap to be worn during the race. Most swimrun competitors will use a pair of running shoes that don't absorb water, a wetsuit when there is colder water, and an optional tether connected to each team members' waistband.  Optional equipment choices include hand paddles, neoprene gloves, swim fins, pull-buoys, personal swim buoys, and compression socks. You will not need a race belt.

Q: Are there any aid stations along the course?

Yes.  Aid station location and offerings information is provided in the weeks before the event.  Competitors are also allowed to provide their own fuel preferences at the aid stations if prior arrangements are made.  Competitors can also carry any food items along the course, but they MUST NOT LITTER anywhere along the course, which would lead to disqualification. Garbage bags are located at the aid stations and at the start/finish line.

Q: Are there race officials along the course?

Yes.  Race officials are posted at every water entry and exit points along the course, as well as at the start and finish lines.  They are all in contact with the race director by cell phone. They will be able to both direct and encourage you while on the course.

Q: Participants will be wading or swimming across Mission Creek. Is this safe or legal to do so?

By late summer, the water flow in Mission Creek has slowed so much after the spring runoff that there is a popular swimming hole at the site of the crossing.  Since the Kokanee salmon run is mostly complete about one month before our event, there are no ecological concerns with our event crossing Mission Creek.  After asking the City of Kelowna and The Regional District (Neither have any authority to give permission to cross the creek), we contacted

[email protected]

(Christine Reid, Natural Resource Specialist at the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development), who provided us a link on using Crown Land without submitting an application.  This link clearly states that swimming in Mission Creek is an appropriate use of Crown Land.

We also contacted Lora Nield of the Penticton Fish and Wildlife regional office to discuss the fish and the spawning/timing windows.  She assured us in writing that, as long as we made no structural changes to the bank or the stream, she had no concerns, and no permitting was required.

Q: Is there more than one course?

Yes.  The two courses (one is about 9K in total, and is called a Short Course Super Sprint, while the longer Full Course is about 18K in total length) are outlined on other pages on this website, and are downloadable.  Both start and finish in Kinsman Park, and have the same entry fee.  There is one Aid Station access point for the shorter course, and three access points for the longer course.  There are also nutrition options at the finish line.

Q: Is it easy to get lost on these courses?

Although there are race marshals and volunteers stationed at all of the swim entry and exit points, and there are directional signs throughout each course to keep you on course, it is still possible to take a wrong turn.  Since both courses are fully described under INFO on this website, and there are complete videos of every run segment for both courses, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL OF THE COMPETITORS TO KNOW THE COURSE THEY ARE ON BY REVIEWING THIS INFORMATION BEFORE THE RACE.