7 Toughest
Swimrun Events

By Richard Mitchell and Mogsy Ford

Updated May 2024

This is the definitive list of the 7 toughest Swimrun events in the world, in our opinion. Each can make a claim due to the extreme nature of one of the elements involved in that particular event. So if you want the bragging rights to completing one of the World's hardest sporting events, read on!

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Toughest Swimrun
- At Night

1. The NIGHT Swimrun. Yes, you read that correctly - this event is held at night, by the organisation SwimrunmanFrance . This is held in June in France, at Embrun Serre-Ponçon, in the heart of the southern Alps.

The total distance is 41.5km (26 miles). Approximately 17% of the total distance is swimming. For safety, you must have a flashing LED inside your swim float, and run with a headlamp. This is an Ötillö merit race, normally held in  June. Here is the official page.

Extreme Vertical

2.  Also held by the organisation SwimrunmanFrance, the extreme VERTICAL Swimrun at Gorge du Verdon is one of 4 held in the SwinrunmanFrance Series, and claims to have the steepest and longest climbs on the running sections. The total distance is over 65km, and this is also an Ötillö Merit race.  Approximately 18% of the total distance is swimming.

A man edging around a cliff edge at Gorge de Verdon, France.Gorge de Verdon Swimrun

Here is an image of the vertical ascent and descent;

A graphic showing vertical elevation of the Gorge de Verdon swimrun event.Gorge de Verdon profile

And here is the video representation of the race - watch out for the long uphill ascents!

Ötillö World Championship

3. The original Ötillö World Championship event, held across the islands of the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden. Acclaimed as one of the hardest 1 day events on Earth, due to the sheer distance (70km or nearly 50 miles) combined with cold waters.

There are 46 transitions over 24 islands, made up of 10km (6 miles) of open water swimming and 65km (40 miles) of trail running. Below is a video that captures the spirit and essence of the World Championship event.

EX Sweden

4. The EX Swimrun in Sweden is a tough event anyway, BUT it also includes a BASE jump off Falcon Mountain. To be exact, the Falcon Mountain base jump is a 6 meter jump straight down into water to start the final swim section. That's 20 feet in imperial measure.

If you lose your confidence at the last minute, there is also the 'Chicken Line' diversion, which is 75 meters longer but without a jump!

More information at the EX Swimrun website here.

A man in a black wetsuit jumping off a cliff into water at the Falcon Mountain Base jumpFalcon Mountain Base Jump!

Kuopio Swimrun

5.  Kuopio Swimrun is a unique swimrun adventure through the wild Finnish nature. Kuopio Swimrun Ultimate at 53 km would certainly be one of the toughest swimrun events. This is a marathon (42 km) of absolute trail running in the Finnish wilderness and 11 km of swimming in Lake Kallavesi Archipelago. The total elevation gain is 1200 meters. It will be the third Kuopio Swimrun Ultimate 53 km race in 2024 and it will also be available for solo competitors. This may be the world's toughest solo swimrun race in 2024!

More information at the Kuopio website

Toughest Swimrun
- Rockman

6. Rockman held their first swimrun race in 2014, in Norway, the first swimrun event outside of Sweden (although Swimrun Italy claim to have held an event for solo competitors in 2012).

At the time, the first Rockman event was considered to be 'too difficult' by most competitors, and so the distance was reduced substantially for subsequent races.

The Rockman greeting competitors at the Rockman Swimrun event in NorwayThe Rockman will meet you on the course!

However, in the last years, swimrunners have become fitter, faster and more skilful. For the 10th anniversary event in July 2024, Rockman is going back to its original course - from Refsvatnet to the Eagle's Nest!

This takes in a total of 6 km of swimming in cold fjords, and 45 km of extreme trail running (more than a Marathon) with 3,500 metres of vertical - that's over 2 miles up and then down!

Here is the course description with map at the Rockman website.

The Rockman event definitely has a claim to be the toughest swimrun!

Toughest Swimrun
- Frog Graham Round

7. The Frog Graham Round is not an organised race as such, but the original challenge was set up in 2005, and we feel it is SO tough that it deserves to be included here.

Frog Graham Round 1The record time holder, Ben Abdelnoor, in 2019

The FGR takes place in the U.K., in the Lake District. This event is probably the toughest swimrun in the U.K., and is in the Top 10 toughest swimruns in the world, due to the sheer distance - 64km - PLUS the vertical element of almost 5,000 metres (15,000 feet).

First held in May 2005, only 70 (that is seventy) people have ever completed the course! It traverses some of the highest peaks through the Lake District, taking in 18 summits.

There is no specific race day, but the time limit for official recognition is 24 hours - you have to submit your GPS trace.

To find out more about this monster event, look at the official Frog Graham Round HERE.

We hope you found our guide to the toughest Swimrun events useful and interesting. If you think there's another event that deserves to be included, let us know, using the Contact Us link!

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