Breca Wanaka 2018 - The SwimRun Season has begun


Breca, the pioneering organiser of global swimrun events, has held the first race of their 2018 Southern Hemisphere swimrun series. Breca Wanaka took place in and around the iconic Lake Wanaka on 18th March 2018.
Swimrun involves teams of two traversing trail and open water, running in their wetsuits and swimming in their shoes. It is one of the fastest growing sports globally, with Breca being the first to establish races in the UK and New Zealand and the only organiser to offer swimrun events across two continents. Having started with just 14 teams at its inaugural swimrun event in the UK in 2015, 434 teams competed in its events in 2017.
The events rank alongside New Zealand’s most challenging single-day events. The rugged trails; long, cold swims and changeable conditions add a layer of difficulty to an already arduous format.
This year, 120 swimrunners from nine countries formed up on the Breca Wanaka start lines. The teams were racing either the 54km full course – almost a full circle around the lake – or the 19.5km “sprint” course. Both are classic swimrun routes - endurance adventures through the less-travelled corners of Lake Wanaka - on-trail, off-trail, across bays and hopping over islands.
Both races started under clear skies and brilliant sunshine. But, the benign waters on the lakefront belied conditions on the race route’s outer reaches. The 2.5km swim from Stephenson’s Arm to Colquhoun’s beach was particularly challenging for the full course teams. Jeff McGrath and Merv Hunger, team jMe, likened the experience to emerging from the water as a different person, such was the effort expended completing this stage.
The swim to Ruby Island and back proved to be the crux of the sprint course. As the afternoon wore on, the prevailing northerly wind whipped up the water, sending small white-caps scudding across the lake. Teamwork, hard swimming and a dose of grit were needed to successfully complete these legs.
“Swimrun is all about teammates working together to complete a unique endurance challenge in spectacular surroundings,” said Breca founder Ben de Rivaz. “You learn a lot about yourself and your own physical and mental capabilities, as well as connecting with nature in a truly immersive way – it’s you and your partner working with and, sometimes, against the elements across land and water.
“Breca Wanaka is a special race. It’s an incredible challenge in a stunning location – a true Kiwi adventure that should be on every swimrunner’s bucket list”.
The next race in Breca’s New Zealand calendar is Breca Bay of Islands on 15th April. Entry costs $800 per team, teams can enter via the Breca website ( bay-of-islands) however the race is sold out for 2018. The Breca ‘news’ section offers useful tips and guides to would-be swimrunners, including a ‘Beginners Guide to Swimrun’ video series for newcomers to the sport (
Breca Wanaka Results
Full results
1st - jME, Jeff McGrath & Merv Hunger, 7:36
2nd - Team Chroma Photography, Ben Wolstencroft & Dave Provan, 7:47 3rd - SBKS, Kim Sarkin & Simon Barber, 8:37
1st - The Hoki Tokies, Stephanie Barker & Jade Winter, 10:26 2nd - Someone said fun!, Sidonie Carpenter & Liz Butler, 11:22
1st - Part-time Penguins, James Haslam & Hilary Totty, 9:19 2nd - Les Expatries, Stephane Torrens & Lisa Torrens, 10:32 3rd - HolidayFun, Gemma Chaters & Rob Critchlow, 11:18
Breca Wanaka Sprint Results
1st - Swim 360, Carl O'Donnell & Matt Stanford 2:20
2nd - Brown Bear Express, Neil Kench & Axel Wohlfarth, 2:35 3rd - Pete & Mark, Mark Cockroft & Pete Smallfield
1st - True Blue Swimrunners, Laurence Gay & Emily Rowbotham, 2:40 2nd - Baddass 2, Sandra Boubee & Roxanne, 2:44
3rd - Swim 360 Girls, Rachel Hare & Natasha Bowyer, 2:49
1st - The Toblerones, Anna Barnes & Pete Orchard, 2:39 2nd - Frash, Ashley McDougall, Fraser Haywood, 2:48 3rd - I blame Nemo, Anna Marshall & Paul Preston, 2:50