Llanberis Swimrun 2023 Report

Report by Angela Jackson

Race Date: Saturday 17th June 2023

The Llanberis Swimrun is an approximately 16km event in and around Lyn Padarn Lake in Llanberis.  The lake is usually between 14-18 degrees but the warm June weather meant it was nearer to 18 than we could have hoped.

Swimruns differ from triathlons and aquathlons in that you have to take everything with you, there is no transition for taking off wetsuits and putting on running shoes. So you swim in your running shoes and run in your wetsult!  There are also multiple runs and swims, in the case of the Llanberis full event it was 4 runs and 4 swims:

Run 1:                   2.3km
Swim 1:                0.48km
Run 2:                   2.07km
Swim 2:                0.48km
Run 3:                   300m
Swim 3:                1.06km
Run 4:                   8.28km
Swim 4:                1.04km

Approx 13km running, 3.1km swimming.

Elevation gain 375m (mainly in run 4, but with some in run 2).

I was entered as a solo competitor in the full event; there was an option to compete as a pair, and Rachel Anderson (Tuesday morning Millhouses regular) who inspired me to enter, was entered as a pair with her friend Wendy. In all there were 10 of us staying in an apartment in Llanberis for the weekend to take on this event, some in the full and some in the sprint distance (about 6km).

Registration was either Friday evening in a local pub or early Saturday at the event – we went for the Friday option. They checked that we had all the mandatory equipment, and for bio security, that it was clean and dry. Mandatory Equipment:

  • 1 wetsuit per participant suitable for water temperature of min 14 degrees Celsius
  • 1 pair goggles per participant
  • 1 pair trainers suitable for off road/multi terrain, per participant
  • 1 whistle per participant
  • Hydration system, soft bottle or cup per participant
  • 1 Tow float (for solo competitors only)

Mandatory but provided by organisers:

  • Race bibs – must be worn at all times during the race and must not be modified
  • Swim caps – must be worn during all the swims
  • Chip timer

Strongly recommended equipment

  • Water
  • Emergency food
  • Mobile phone in waterproof case

One of the main aspects of preparing for this event was working out how to deal with this equipment when it wasn’t in use. I used a carabiner so I could hook my tow float and goggles to a waist band. In addition to my wetsuit pocket (used for gels and wrappers) I also had a pouch attached to the waist band for a cup and empty water bottle that I could access quickly.  The tow float had a waterproof pocket where I kept a phone and also my water bottle when full on swim 3 (I wanted to have water for the start of run 4).

There were 2 feed stations, the first after swim 2 and the second about 5 km into run 4 (basically after you’d got to the top of the ascent).  There were jugs of water and water carriers with taps, with the option of water or an electrolyte drink in them.  If you wanted a drink you needed to have a cup/bottle with you.  They also had the usual food, bananas, jellied sweets etc. I stuck with jelly sweets and my own gels as I’ve had problems eating fruit and then swimming straight after.  There was a strict policy of no littering (disqualification if you were seen offending) so I was careful to put gel wrappers back in my wetsuit pocket.

There were a few marshals around the runs but a myriad of arrows and red ribbons to mark the route. I’d memorised the route as much as possible, because I had a fear of getting lost!  Large buoys marked the swim courses with a marshal at each entry and exit point.  There were many kayakers out on the lake making sure everyone was safe.
Portable loos were available near to the start area, but we were staying a short walk from the start so I didn’t use them.

This was a very well organised event by Love SwimRun, with pizzas and hot drinks available to buy at the end.

We were started off in waves, unfortunately the others were in different waves to me. Perhaps it would have been good to compete as a pair rather than a solo, so I’d have had company.

The following are my thoughts as I tackled each section, you may want to skip to the results!

Run 1– flat and good paths, a good warm up run, don’t go too fast in the excitement. Around the top end of the lake. Should I have left my swim cap off till I got to end of run 1? No, good to get it on before the start, less to worry about. Whistle annoying me bouncing on tow float.

Run 1-Beth and Kate

Start of swim 1

Swim 1 – easy entry, water doesn’t feel cold, great! Swim down edge of lake for 400m but avoid rock at 300m, sighting big buoy. Out of water, rocks under foot and glad I’m wearing shoes!

Run 2 – This side of lake has a steep wooded hill straight after a little railway line. Start walking up it as I attach tow float to waist band – technical ascent through woods until we hit a road.  Road goes up hill sometimes steep then flattens out, slow and steady, eventually we turn onto a path back down through the woods and a technical descent (concentrate, don’t fall) to the lakeside.  Unhook tow float, goggles on and back into water.

Ang making her way up through the woods – run 2

Swim 2 – across the lake back to where we started. Have managed to get the tow float line wrapped around me… mmm best for me to do a few rolls to unravel it. Sorted. Swim across and now aware of catching a few people up.  Swim into lagoon area- too shallow to swim – shall I try to stand and walk through to the lagoon or scull? – I scull. Good choice as now back in deeper water. Paddle boarders and other lake users here, stagger out and find the feed station.

Trying to get into the Lagoon

Run 3 – fill up water bottle and stow in the tow float for later. Fill my cup and get a drink now, grab some sweets, have I got enough, no, get another handful. Come on this is meant to be a quick sprint to the next bay and I’m faffing about. Need to get chip scanned here.  Long course and sprint course split at this point – marshals direct people where to go (orange hats long course, yellow sprint).

Swim 3 – swim out to the middle of the lake then down to the far end. Can’t see the buoy at the far end so assume that the people ahead are going in the right direction. Keep looking for buoy but don’t find it for ages. Water colder at this end of the lake, feel low on energy. Out of water, Google’s off, hook on tow float, get water bottle out, get gel out.

Run 4 – walk whilst I get gel down and have a drink. Start running. I’m asked by a passer-by where the run goes so I explain rather than rush off, a 30 second breather!  Run up to Dolbadarn Castle then back down to Llyn Peris reservoir for a flat road section to the end of the reservoir (1.5km).   Next run to the opposite side of the reservoir to start the ascent to the old slate quarries. Ascent is very steep in places along a rough track with lots of loose stones – slow to a walk, drink my water and have another gel, a pair run past.  Adjust my tow float to try to stop it bouncing when running, pick up my pace as near the top, wow, great views over the lake and Eryri! Quarries really atmospheric, road bearing round to the right which means – the second feed station, yes, the tough bit of the run is over. Refill my water bottle, more sweets, marshal directs me over to a gate, off I go, enjoying the run now, gradually winding downhill.  Track steepens, back to the wooded area, steep difficult paths, tree roots, concentrate, don’t fall. Pass a pair, yes!  Down to train station with proper steps to the lake side, last run over.  Quick final gel, finish my drink, step into the water, last swim to go.

Heading up to the slate quarries

Rachel and Wendy at the end of run 4

Swim 4 – swim up lakeside to a buoy, round the back of buoy then cross the lake to where we started. Sighted buoy and I head straight for it. Kayaker asks me to move closer to the shore, I do but keep sighting that buoy.   Overtaking some other competitors.  Calves feel like they are starting to cramp and my hamstrings want to do the same. Give myself a good talking to- I don’t need my legs for the swim, most of my power comes from my arms. I just stretch and flex my feet as I go to keep the muscles from getting worse.  Concentrate on a long arm pulI, keep sighting the buoy, reach it, 600m down, just 400m to go. Person up ahead, perhaps I can catch them before the finish.

I’m sighting the finish now and I start feeling that bit of elation- I’m going to finish, I don’t need to do this again! Overtake that other person. Get to shallow water and stand up, where’s the finish? Goggles off, still can’t see finish. Marshals point to the left and there’s a great big finish funnel. Hobble to the line and get my chip scanned.

Angela – where’s the finish?


Rachel and Wendy stormed this swimrun and were the first female pair, 2 hrs 43 mins and 41 secs.  They were 79 seconds ahead of the runners up, who they overtook on the final swim!


I was extremely tired but satisfied at the end.  My objective was to finish and I did. I was so happy with my time of 3 hrs 1 min and 32 secs and looking at the results realised that I was 7th woman and the only solo female over 60 – I’m taking that as a win!

First man Adam Gibson 2:05:09
First mixed pair Lucy Young/Simon Griffiths 2:25:43
First woman Cathy Atkinson 2:28:13
First male pair Cèdric Lèvêque/Martin Lennon 2:35:24
First female pair Rachel Anderson/Wendy Dawe 2:43:41
7th woman Angela Jackson 3:01:32

Full results here.

Well done to everyone who completed this event, but especially to Rachel, Wendy, Beth, Kate, Kate, Robyn, Jo, Lauren, and Jody who made this a magic weekend.

Photos courtesy of paul.fowles photography, Kailey Jane photography, Spectrum Video, and the Love SwimRun team

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