Distances in swimrun – Helping you choose your race

Swimrun, in comparison to triathlon, is not swept asphalt, and carefully measured race-courses (or a 209-page rulebook). Yes, the events are measured, but not to the millimeter. Instead, you get to experience the race-directors vision of the perfect swimrun (and in most cases, a single sheet containing all the rules).

Swimrun is a new sport, and therefore there are no defined race-distances like there are in other endurance sports. This poses a problem when you want to sign up for a race. Full-distance can mean anything from 20 kilometers to… Well, the sky’s the limit! 

Although we are starting to see that most races have settled in on around marathon-distance for a full, it is still no real definition.

With this article. I want to try to make sense of it all. It becomes a problem to try to plan your training if you can’t figure out how long you will race for. So, let us take a look at some of the organizations out there, and see if we can map it out. 

Most race-organizations use one of these two ways of defining their races:

  • Full
  • Sprint 
  • Experience / super sprint


  • Long
  • Middle
  • Short

With most race organizers choosing the latter.

Race length according to us

So, to make things a bit more clear, I propose this for the discussion forward (not counting the few exceptions). Swimrun races can be categorized as:

Long – 30 to 45 kilometers
Middle – 15 to 29 kilometers
Short – 8 – 14 kilometers
Super sprint – up to 7 kilometers

With that said, there are of course the outliers. The ultras, the 24-hour races, and the backyard ultra style races. Plus the World Championships is 75 kilometers.  But let’s not get into that right now.

Swimrun racing

Swimrun races have many other variables of course. The total length is just one of many factors. 

Other things to take into account

  • Running and swimming percentages
  • How many transitions
  • What type of running is there
  • Is the swimming in flat lakes, or in currents, or a stormy sea

With that said. Regardless of the amount of vertical, swimming or technical terrain. One thing is clear, this is an endurance sport, so we need to train accordingly.

Adapt over time

It is not wise to run a marathon if you haven’t trained for it. So, with your training, you need to let your body gradually adapt to the workload over a long period of time. It all depends on your prerequisite. Start by racing shorter distances, it is a great way to both get into swimrun as well as learn what it is like and how you function in a situation.

How to train

Depending on your ambition with a race, are you there to accomplish, do a personal best or are you going for the podium. You will have to take different approaches to your training program. Are you in it for your first race, and want to have a great experience? Join a club or a group that trains swimming and running and get out there training!

Or, are you in it for a personal best? Then a more structured approach is suited for you! Building your base as an athlete with a pre-season and a race-specific training program.

Want an individual training plan?

If so, please register below and we will make a free plan for your upcoming season.

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