Red Bull Neptune Steps 2018 #dryrobeterritory
One event that stands out every year in the swimming calendar is Red Bull Neptune Steps - the cold and intensity of the race are staples of this epic swim/climb - but 2018's edition was one for the books.
600 tough as nails swimmers took on Glasgow's Forth & Clyde and were greeted by 420m of swimming, 7 lock gates to climb totalling 18m and if that wasn't enough the weather provided an extra obstacle. It was seriously brutal - with water temperatures of only 3 degrees C plus non-stop torrential rain there were more than a few entrants looking a little anxious at the start line.
It was a tough day of racing - the event attracts a real mix of athletes from a whole range of sports, all looking to pit themselves against one of the hardest swim challenges out there. Obstacle course racers, swimmers, triathletes, ultra racers and more took on the steps - plus a few familiar faces including nature presenter and adventurer Steve Backshall, Olympic triathlete Gordon Benson, adventure addicts the Turner Twins and strongman swimmer Ross Edgley.
Ross is no stranger to extreme events, and had some top advice for anyone thinking of taking on Neptune Steps in the future:
“Firstly, bring some warm clothes - the faster you can change and get warm the more enjoyable it is, and a dryrobe is an essential for getting warm and staying warm. Secondly, work on all the different facets of the race, so if you’re not a cold-water swimmer, start to acclimatise yourself with outdoor swimming. Then work on upper body strength for the rope ladder and even try some rock climbing. Not that anything can prepare you for the waterfalls, which can feel a bit like being waterboarded."
“You can be a good swimmer, but as soon as you’re as cold as that it’s like a completely different stroke, you’re not as smooth as you normally are, and your arms aren’t functioning like normal. I was a bit mad to do it wearing a sleeveless tri suit in my first heat, but that’s the beauty of the event – it combines different disciplines and different athletes so everyone’s learning from each other, be it kit or technique. The camaraderie among the racers was something really special, too."
After a solid days racing, the finals went off at blisteringly fast pace, with spectators sprinting along the canal to keep up with the swimmers as they made their way up the steps. In the mens final, event newcomer Dan Jones took the win with a powerful display - shocking everyone when he revealed it was his first open water swimming event!
In the womens race it was a familiar face crossing the finish line in first place - with last year's winner Jennifer Davis defending her title in style and claiming another trident for the collection - plus her limited edition winner's dryrobe.
1. Daniel Jones
2. Andrew Horsfall-Turner
= 3. Daniel Fisher
= 3. Ashley Hogg
1. Jennifer Davis
2. Caitlin Bower
3. Lillyella Craw Seaman
Thanks to Red Bull for another incredible event - see you all next year!
Photo credits: Red Bull Content Pool and Pete Hill