If you are into trail running, this man does not need to be introduced. Hailing from sunlit Cape Town, 34-year-old Ryan Sandes is no stranger in the world of ultra-running. He dominated the challenging 4 Desserts series in record setting manner before becoming a household name on podiums of numerous world-wide mountain running races. Ryan is a busy man running and scrambling around the scenic mountains of his hometown. Last weekend he got his first shot of SwimRun racing. Together with his training partner he finished 3rd at Africas first ever SwimRun race along the picturesque Mother City” coastline. I catched up with Ryan to find out what he has to say about the competition and SwimRun in general.

Not shy of new challenges – Ryan Sandes looks forward to get some well-known running in as he finishes a choppy swim section. (Picture: Craig Kolesky)

Runssel: You had your first taste of SwimRun racing at the inaugural competition in South Africa, the Torpedo SwimRun this Sunday. How did it all come about?

Ryan Sandes: One of my sponsors Oakley offered me an entry and I was like yeah yes please. I had heard a lot about the SwimRun events in Europe and I grew up in the ocean so I was really intrigued to try the concept out.

Runssel: When was the first time you heard of SwimRun? Genuinely, what did you think?

Ryan Sandes: I read about the ÖtillÖ SwimRun World Championship a few years ago in a Red Bull article and I thought wow this looks really fun. I think it is such a fun event and really different.

Ryno Griesel and Ryan broke the 200km Drakensberg Grand Traverse record in a time of 41 hours and 49 minutes back in 2014. (Picture: Kelvin Trautman)

Runssel: How much time did you spend preparing the contest? Did your companion Kane Reilly and yourself train on the course that leads along the coastline of Cape Town much?

Ryan Sandes: Kane and I are both trail runners and do a bit of surfing now and again so that was our main preparation. We did a bit of a recce on some of the course the weekend before to see what we were in for and as an excuse to go on a bit of an adventure.

Runssel: What type of equipment did you guys choose? What would you do different if you would race again?

Ryan Sandes: I used the Salomon SLAB XA Amphib shoes and a Full Sleeve Huub Swim wetsuit. Kane went for hand paddles. I think if we did it again we would both use the leg floatation bouys and I would definitely use some of those hand paddles. I think I would need to do some training with the hand paddles though.

Kane Reilly leads Ryan out of the water onto another run. (Picture: Craig Kolesky)

Runssel: How do you rate SwimRun as a sport? Can you see the sport growing in South Africa? Any plans for another outing?

Ryan Sandes: Its an awesome concept and I think it will get really popular in South Africa. We have a really big endurance culture in South Africa and because we have such good weather I think the SwimRun events are perfect. Yes I would definitely like to do another one of the events!

Runssel: What is on your running schedule for this season?

Ryan Sandes: My main focus races this year will be Western States 100 and then either CCC or UTMB. I am also working on one or two free running projects.

Ryan prepares for the Antarctica marathon with a training run around the dunes of Silvermine Nature Reserve, near Cape Town. (Picture: Craig Kolesky)
Ryan used Salomon’s latest SwimRun flagship, the SLAB XA Amphib. Review soon on this part of the interweb. (Picture: Kelvin Trautman)

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Ryan is sponsored by Oakley, Red Bull, Salomon, Suunto, Axis House, Ford and