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I found a sense of freedom at 49 through a challenging new hobby

Jude Palmer took up an extreme hobby which helped ease the stress of daily life

woman in hat by lake
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I've always been an active person, but after the birth of my first child, I wanted to get fit again and needed a goal to keep me focused.

I did a fair few triathlons but preferred the freedom of off-road running. I like the wildness of trail running and being in open water appeals to me, so I challenged myself to try Swimrun, a course that sees you run over mountain passes, swim across vast lakes and jump into streams.

The backdrops are stunning and it's brilliant, challenging and different. Swimrun is worlds apart from the sanitised world pool swimming and running and I thrive on the element of the unknown. It demands more from me mentally and physically than the sum of the distances I run and swim.

Two people embracing at the top of a hill overlooking a lake
Jude has travelled the world for Swimrun events

Appealing to the adventurer in me, during the course you cross landscapes without knowing what is coming next. It keeps you on your toes and the best thing is just as you think, ‘oh I wish this run would end’ it does and into the water you get for a swim leg.

Spending time outside exploring, swimming, trail running with other people and overcoming obstacles always makes me feel great. For that moment, I can forget about all the pressures of daily life and focus on keeping going in what are often some amazing landscapes.

After the event, you feel like you have seen a place from the inside out and been part of it. But Swimrun also helps in daily life as I think, 'Well I have done that, so I can do anything else that’s put in my way’.

man jumping off cliff into lake© Instagram
Swimrun is exhilarating

I love the variation, the scenery and the freedom. Often you aren’t following a normal path, the weather changes, one swim might be calm another choppy, a run section might be sandy and flat or muddy and hilly. It is more of a journey than a race.

READ: 7 genuine reasons my fifties are my best decade yet

Last summer, my teammate Pat and I took part in Rockman, an iconic event in Norway and it was truly amazing. We jumped off the back of a ferry to start, swam across fjords and mountain lakes, used ropes to climb along cliff edges, waved at tourists wondering why on earth we were running in wetsuits and importantly had a whole lot of fun. I've also done events in Germany, Croatia, Switzerland, Jersey, Isles of Scilly and loads more.

People swimming in a lake© Gritty Rascals Events Ltd
Swimrun takes in a variety of terrains

Swimrun is for everyone, and I set up my own event, South East Swimrun. If you can swim and run, you can do it! Don’t over think it just give it a go.

Swimrun is a growing sport which combines swimming and running. Participants race a predefined course, alternating between land and water, starting and finishing in the same gear and completing multiple swims and runs.For more information on swimrun events and kit visit  

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