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Run, Swim, Repeat: SwimRun Racing Debuts in the U.S.

The latest trend to hit the U.S. that started in Sweden as a drunken bet—SwimRun racing.

If you want to shake up your racing and fitness game, check out the latest trend to hit the U.S.—SwimRun racing. Started in Sweden in 2002 allegedly as a drunken bet to see who could run and swim across 20 islands the fastest, the sport combines multiple segments of cross-country running and open-water swimming. The first official race was held in Sweden in 2006 (ÖTILLÖ, now the World Championship event with Pippa Middleton having finished the 47-mile course in 2015). Now 10 years later, there are about 100 races in Europe, and it’s jumped the pond to the U.S., with races in Maine, North Carolina and California.

The concept includes teams of two (for safety and camaraderie) racing together and carrying all the gear they need for the duration of the event. Course segments and distances are determined by natural features, with some courses, like the 12K sprint California SwimRun this past Saturday in San Diego, being relatively flat and straightforward. Others have more technical elements, like SwimRun NC, held on Sunday in Hanging Rock, N.C., which included about 2 miles of swimming mixed in with 14 miles of trail running that also included 2,300 feet of elevation gain and some waterfall scrambling to up the challenge. Scroll through the gallery below to see images from the inaugural SwimRun NC event.