Yes, we know your first question. What is a Mudskipper? It’s an amphibious fish that has gills and swims in the water, but that also walks on land. Now we’ll tell you what your next question should be: why haven’t you done a SwimRun event yet?

Over in Europe SwimRun events are becoming extremely popular, rivalling the popularity of triathlons in some areas. Globally there were over 500 SwimRun races around the world last year, with more on deck for 2020. 

SwimRun races are multistage events that alternate between swimming and running. Swimming aids (paddles, fins, pull buoys and wetsuits) are permitted, but must be either worn or carried during the run. Running shoes are also required and need to be carried or worn during the swim.

When many people think of SwimRun events, they think of the famous ÖTILLÖ race in Sweden, which is SwimRun’s equivalent to a World Major. The first ÖTILLÖ race took place in 2002 as a competition between two pairs of brothers. It continues to feature “partner” racing–now teams of two qualify at races around the world for the ÖTILLÖ World Championship, a 75K race that sees athletes swim and run between 26 islands. 

In 2014 an individual series of SwimRun races began in Italy, which has since grown to become the Aquaticrunner series, with its own world championship in Grado, Italy. The Mudskipper SwimRun events do feature team events, but the main focus is on individual SwimRun racing.

Now heading into its fourth year, the Muskipper SwimRun Challenge Series, formerly the Canaqua Sports SwimRun Challenge includes six SwimRun events in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick. Two of the races, Parry Sound and Kenora, are qualifiers for the Aquaticrunner worlds in Grado.

 “Here in Canada, SwimRun is where triathlon was 35 years ago,” says Ian Feldman, the president of Canaqua Sports, the company that is producing the Mudskipper Challenge. “There aren’t enough events, and we need to get people exposed to the sport. In 2020 we’re working on both of those issues by expanding our event series, and we’ll also be doing clinics to help educate athletes about SwimRun training and racing.” 

SwimRun Equipment

So, what do you need for a SwimRun race? Most races will require a wetsuit. While you don’t necessarily need a specific SwimRun wetsuit, you’ll certainly find the experience a lot easier with a suit designed for swimming and running. 

Your shoe choice is very important, too. Look for something that is comfortable for long distances and the technical challenges of the trails, but can also be worn in the water. They need to be snug fitting, drain well and have grippy soles.

Runners who have experience swimming with paddles and pull buoys will be thrilled to learn that both are fair game in SwimRun races. The paddles provide more stroke power, while the pull buoy provides some welcome flotation for your legs–especially appreciated while swimming with shoes. 

Taking on a new Challenge

For runners looking for something new, or for someone who cross-trains a lot, SwimRun is a logical choice. Multisport athletes around the world are taking on this new challenge–isn’t it time you gave one a shot? For more information go to

2020 Mudskipper SwimRun Challenge Events:

Welland, June 14
Pinawa, June 6
Huronia, June 28
Kenora, July 12
Parry Sound, July 26
Pinawa II August 22