get wild with Torpedo SwimRun

The inaugural race recently wrapped in the Wilderness on the Garden Route and it is a step up – both in terms of toughness and natural beauty – on its predecessor in Cape Town, which is heading into its third edition this November. A combination of running and swimming, the Torpedo series is one of the more unique races you could take on (run in your wetsuit, swim with your trainers on) and it is quickly growing in popularity.

One of the reasons for this is that it’s a great leveller – strong swimmers need to brave the running sections, strong runners need to overcome the open water swims – and throws down a gauntlet to which discipline is the toughest. The field is often a mix of tri-athletes, open-water swimmers, trail runners and life savers, with the latter dominating Torpedo Wild this year.

Llandudno Surf Lifesaving in Cape Town sat on top of both the men’s and women’s podiums this year, and also delivered the mixed team winner, and there is no doubt the rest of the field will be pushing hard to upset them next year.

The Torpedo Wild is a 26km route, consisting of 5 runs (17km combined), 4 swims (4km) and a highly technical ‘swamble’ (5km), and it is one of the toughest, and most rewarding events, you will take on. The frequent transitions between running and swimming test even the best athlete’s versatility, while the split between rock-hopping, beach running and basic trail keeps you on your toes (and often on your bum). It’s hard graft, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

The natural beauty of the route goes a long way in taking your mind off your aching legs and bruised posterior with Wilderness one of the most jaw-dropping slices of heaven in the Western Cape. Starting out from the Nelson Mandela University, competitors get off to quick start along the 7 Passes before the pace gets slowed down considerably as they cut off-road and into the Swamble section along the Kaaimans River. This 5km section can be pretty brutal and tests your stability and navigation abilities before popping out in sight of the iconic Kaaimans River Bridge, with tired legs and bruises to both the body and the ego. A word of advice, take a moment during the swamble to really take in the view… magic.

The remainder of the route is not as rigorous in terms of technical know-how, but with legs like jelly, the final 10+km is certainly a test of endurance. Thankfully the scenery never lets up and as you wind your way along the Touw River, you quickly find a second wind, the hardest section well behind you, and you can really soak in the raw wonder of this incredible place. You’re not going to find many routes that can match the rugged splendour of Wilderness.

Judging by the first edition, the Torpedo crew has a hit on their hands and the Wild edition is very likely to be the jewel in their crown. It’s only going to get bigger from here.

Written by Robert Peters