If completing a 10km marathon swim in under 3 hours without a wetsuit wasn’t challenge enough, two competitors at this Saturday’s Cold Half Extreme Marathon Swim in Hong Kong will then attempt a sub-3 hour marathon run the following day at the Standard Chartered Marathon.
If they succeed in the ‘Cold Standard Challenge’ they will join the exclusive (so exclusive there is only one member) Sub 3 Squared Club.
Only two athletes have signed up to the Cold Standard Challenge, Henry Wright and Katrin Butcha. At last year’s Cold Half, Wright came close to attaining entry to the Sub 3 Squared Club, but his swim of 3hrs 20mins just wasn’t fast enough. He says last year was a great experience, but hopes to better his result this weekend: “The Sub 3 Squared is a challenge in itself, but doing each discipline one after the other is the next step up. I think I could achieve both of them separately, but with less than 24 hours to recover, this is a really hard test of endurance.”
Butcha, who only started swimming and running one and a half years ago, admits she might be “a little crazy”. She underwent hip surgery as a child and wasn’t allowed to do any sport. The double challenge “makes it exciting for me, even if it seems boring for such a long distance,” she says. “I know my limits and within these limits I love to challenge myself.”
The main event of the day, though, is the Cold Half Extreme Marathon Swim. Thirty-five solo and relay swimmers are signed up for the 14km swim from Stanley to Deep Water Bay. The course takes in some of Hong Kong’s most stunning views and, just to make things a bit more interesting, includes an 800m section of bodysurfing. “This is our third Cold Half race, and it is becoming known as one of ‘the races’ to swim in for those overseas who like a challenge and want to come to Asia,” says Doug Woodring, race director. “This is the only cold water race in the region where swimmers can train for long swims like the English Channel, with the cold water to go with it.” Although, with water temperatures predicted to be between 16 and 17 degrees Celsius, “cold” is all relative.
More information: www.openwaterasia.com
We will be taking an in-depth look at open water swimming in Hong Kong in the April/May issue of the magazine.