For those who haven’t seen your buddy in years, you can textual content and ask him to satisfy you for a beer. For those who’re Lance Armstrong, you textual content and ask if he desires to run and swim 23-plus miles whereas tethered collectively. Swimrun, an endurance sport born out of a bet between two Swedes in 2002, is the most recent problem for athletes like Armstrong who’ve already checked off grueling races like an Ironman.
The game requires athletes to alternate between sections of trail running and open-water swimming. It exploded in Europe in 2014 and is simply beginning to catch on stateside, mentioned Lars Finanger, co-founder and race director of SwimRun USA. There are actually a few dozen races within the U.S. Armstrong could also be finest identified for cycling, however he began out by kicking butt within the pool and gained his first triathlon at age 13. When his professional biking profession ended, he discovered his aggressive second act within the triathlon world, and he earned a spot on the rostrum at a number of Half Ironman occasions in 2012.
Not one to carry again his opinion, Armstrong despatched out a tweet that yr describing the shorter Olympic triathlon occasion as “a shampoo, blow dry, and a 10Ok foot race,” and he took difficulty with the Olympic rule that permits cyclists to draft off one another. Canadian Simon Whitfield, a four-time Olympic triathlete and arguably one of many biggest triathletes of all time, took offense, which set off a Twitter battle that acquired a maelstrom of media protection.
Armstrong was finally banned from competing within the Kona Ironman World Championship after the U.S. Anti-Doping Company formally charged him with drug violations from his Tour de France days. Now he has set his sights on dominating swimrun, and for his newest race in Washington’s San Juan Islands, he made an attention-grabbing selection for a companion: Simon Whitfield.
Each males mentioned that the media blew their tiff out of proportion, and whereas they might have their variations, they’ve an unimaginable mutual respect for each other.
“There’s an entire different narrative folks wish to assign to Lance that I’ve by no means cared for,” Whitfield informed Males’s Journal. “After years of emails and telephone calls we met in individual in Austin 15 years in the past and went out for a beer.”
When Whitfield crashed out of the 2012 Olympic triathlon in London, Armstrong known as to say, “’Hey man, sorry that occurred, I understand how a lot work you set into it,’” recalled Whitfield. And years later, when he was going by way of a divorce, Armstrong rang him to supply extra supportive phrases.
Armstrong mentioned that when contemplating a companion, Whitfield instantly got here to thoughts. He’s based mostly in Victoria, British Columbia, near the race, and the 2 are fairly evenly matched with regards to athleticism.
“We’re long-lost homies who’ve saved in contact over time,” Armstrong joked. “He’s not very match, I’m not very match. We’re simply going to wing it and see what this expertise is all about and take a look at to not kill ourselves.”
Though they’re each getting older, neither Armstrong, 47, nor Whitfield, 43, has misplaced his aggressive edge.
“I think about Lance is extra aggressive than me,” mentioned Whitfield. “Between the 2 of us we gained’t have an issue with that a part of the race.”
Earlier than Sunday, neither athlete had participated in a companion race earlier than, and definitely not one which requires you to be tethered to your teammate by an 8.5-foot rope. They’ll even have the added problem of swimming of their sneakers and working in a wetsuit: The course is damaged up into 12 swims and 14 runs, and it covers an intense 6,108 ft of elevation acquire.
Their technique has been a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am coaching routine that began one month forward of the race.
“My plan is to neglect the technical stuff and simply wing it,” mentioned Armstrong, including that his Achilles heel might be the chilly water temperatures. Each athletes have been drawn to the actual fact the game continues to be in its infancy and feels extra like an journey.
“It’s an opportunity to hang around with an previous pal and be a child once more,” mentioned Whitfield. “As we become older, we get into these disciplined, institutionalized sports activities and so they lose a few of the enjoyable. With Swimrun, it’s sort of something goes. You’re swimming with paddles in your sneakers. It’s like being on an expedition along with your pal. I like that spirit.”
The duo raced beneath the cheeky staff title Bathe, Shampoo, Blow Dry, and on Sunday they completed third with a time of 6:09:20. Armstrong posted concerning the race on his Instagram web page:
Appears just like the pair have discovered their new sport.