Two in a row for Mark Deans at Red Bull Neptune Steps

Described as an ‘uphill swimming race’, the Red Bull Neptune Steps event is more of a cross between an open water sprint and an obstacle course. We sent along our occasional nutrition contributor Joel Enoch take part in the second running of this event, which took place on 9 April 2016. His immediate reaction was: “I survived!”

The first challenge was the water temperature. At just 9 degrees Celsius, it was 2 degrees colder than the minimum temperature allowed in triathlon swims. Joel reports that he spent the entire allocated 8 minutes warm up time acclimatising and getting comfortable putting his face in the water.

At 420m, this is a short open water swim. On the other hand, that turns it into more of a lung bursting sprint, especially when you add in the eight obstacles – scrambling nets, climbing walls, ropes and ladders – that you need to overcome to move up the flight of locks. And as the event has heats, semi-finals and a final you could end up doing it three times.

Shannon Botham

Shannon Botham scrambles to victory

In the women’s event, Stirling University triathlete Shannon Botham was the first home, beating an elite field of athletes from Sweden, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Canada. In the men’s race, local athlete Mark Deans showed that his win in 2015 was no fluke, winning by an impressive margin of nearly 20 seconds in a time of 5:47.

Joel sadly just missed out on a place in the semi-finals after finishing 11th out of 31 in his heat, with the top 10 going through. However, he’s keen to give it another go.

“It’s a great concept,” he says. “It’s a very, very good event and I’d love to do it again – although when I was waiting at the start I was thinking I ought to be paid a lot of money for doing this.”

Joel adds that this is an event for serious and well trained athletes. “I definitely felt a bit intimidated by the quality of the field,” he says. “This wasn’t a place for novices.”


Male Final

1st: Mark Deans (05.47)

2nd: Mark Austin (06.04)

3rd: James Walton (06.17)

Female Final

1st: Shannon Botham (08.08)

2nd: Helen Smith (08.29)

3rd: Cliona Ferguson (08.52)

Shannon Botham 2

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.