So on the MSF forums recently, JenA posted about the Barkley Marathons. Barkley is a crazy-ass run event where the “fun run” is only 60 miles or so. The actual run is in the neighborhood of 100 miles and finishers tend to be counted on one hand.
But this innocent seeming thread has lead many of us to devise interesting ideas for open water events. 24-hour events were mentioned, and my dear reader(s) know how much I love the idea of La Tuque. (Thank you, Suzie Dods, for your 24-hour event which I hope someday to attend.) Long circumnavigations of huge lakes are mentioned as well. The thread reminded me of an event that was mentioned in the DNOWS some years ago (swim orienteering). Of course we already have the Champion of Champions, which is a 5-mile swim followed by a 3-mile and then a mile swim. (Although this year it might be done in reverse direction, since that original order was deemed too easy!)
Mostly, JenA’s thread brought up all kinds of ideas in my mind, from Rogaine-esque events to a swim version of Ride and Tie. So many fun things you could do in the water, where to start? Well, gotta start somewhere, so in this post, I’ll talk about Ride and Tie, or for our purposes, Swim and Tie.
In Ride and Tie, two runners share one horse. Only one runner can be on the horse at any time, and the pair need to complete a course 20-100 miles long. One of the pair starts off running while the other starts off on the horse. After a while, the rider dismounts, ties the horse to a tree and starts running. When the runner catches up to where the horse is tied up, s/he gets on the horse and rides. In this manner the pair complete the course.
Replace the horse with a kayak, and you’ve got Swim and Tie. Each pair gets a kayak, and they have to complete a set course in the water, say 10-30 miles. Points could be set up around the lake, giving the teams options for where to tie the kayak. We’d have to ensure that the teams complete the set course, either by setting up buoys that have to be navigated around, or kayak tie spots that must be used. Maybe whoever is kayaking must cross a pad when s/he ties up the kayak, which of course means we’d have to give each member of the team an ankle sensor.
There must also be rules re: equipment. We cannot expect a swimmer who’s sitting in the kayak to not wear sun or weather protection: hat, sunglasses, light coat. Each person could have their equipment stored in the kayak, or we could require the teams to share equipment.
As for safety cover, do we need a kayak to follow every team? Or just covering the lake or area that we use for the event? As for that, would the event be multiple laps, or a long A to B, or even a long loop. Places like Flathead Lake in Montana, 27 miles long, with lots of coves and some islands to swim around, might be perfect. And there’s already a very active open water swimming group there, the FLOW Swimmers.