The third Bruderwunder: introducing Max Wolke

We are well into the winter season now. The nights are long, the days are short and we’ve switched from drinking cold refreshing lager to hearty, sustaining stout. A summer of intensive racing and focussed training is behind us, and it feels like now is an opportunity to pause, reflect and consider whats in store for the year ahead. It’s also an opportunity to welcome a new Bruder into the Bruderwunderhood – Max ‘Der Panzerwagon’ Wolke. 

I feel honored to have been invited into the Bruderwunderhood for the 2018 Swim Run season and can’t wait to stake my claim as part of a lean, mean international swim running machine. So how did I end up here, and why am I putting away my bike for the winter and deciding to run around in a cut off wet suit next summer? As with every decision, it has a point of origin.

For me that moment came in the final strokes of the Breca Buttermere sprint race, swimming to victory in synchrony with my close friend and training partner, Tim Murphy.

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Bruderwunderz Origins – Breca Buttermere #RaceReport

The story of the Bruderwunderz began in the Lake District in 2015 at the first ever Swimrun in the UK – the inaugural edition of the British classic Breca Buttermere. The founding Bruders Alan Scott and Hamish Cropper won the race, also defeating Knut, who on this occasion was competing under the colours of the The German Sparkle Party.

The pure and honest nature of the Cumbrian fells makes the race a one of a kind in the Swimrun scene and one of our personal favourites. We have returned to Buttermere for every edition of the race and Alan currently stands with a track record of three wins. At the 2017 edition, Alan and Knut competed together for the first time and Max made his debut Swimrun appearance at the sprint race.

One of the peculiarities about the previous editions of the race, was all teams being accommodated at the Buttermere YHA. Bunkbeds and packed rooms added a special kick, creating kind of a school trip feeling. Unfortunately, housing in Buttermere is scarce and the increasing number of teams racing called for an update of the housing concept forcing a relocation to Keswick.

For this year’s race, the start was moved west to Fangs Brow and the finish line was placed at the edge of Derwent Water in Keswick, making it a point to point race. But much of the course is still on the same trails, just now and again running in the opposite direction to previous years.

However tough this race was before, the new course for sure stepped it up a notch. Whereas the incredible scenery and unpredictable weather conditions have remained untouched, the new course have introduced some interesting changes. One of the biggest being the extension of the run section from Buttermere up to Dale Head by another ~5k (now total 14,4k). Thereby also adding more trails and more elevation. The extended trails and upped ascent at this point being a key feature of which the Bruderwunderz failed to take note prior to the race.

The new route somehow gave the race completely new dynamics. On the old course, an early swim as well as technical trails and heavy climbing in the early stages separated the teams early on. Already on the first kilometres, the field was fairly well sorted. This time, slightly longer and easier runs made the first sections very fast. We kept ourselves in the front of the race trying not to invest too much energy early on. After all, we were (to some extent) aware of what was to come further down the road. However, pacing yourself is a challenge when the distance back to the chasing teams is short. Sub 4min k’s on the first runs only goes to prove that there is still some room for improvement.
By the time we hit the big climbs, our advantage on second place was less than 5 minutes and the lead felt far from safe. The relief of seeing the distance increase going up the hills made the suffering significantly more enjoyable. On the other hand, realizing that the hardest run section was now even harder than expected, caused some additional mental provocations.

By the time we hit the finish line, we had worked up a good 20 minute lead and fortunately did not have to worry about a photo finish. All in all a happy coincidence since we also outdid the estimated “fastest finish” time and the photographers were not yet around 🙂

The point-to-point course added some new features to this unique competition. Combined with the additional sprint race (yes, 18k is a sprint), we expect to see more teams from outside the UK on the start line next season. In any case, one thing is for sure: The Bruderwunderz will attempt a fourth strike!

2017 Breca Buttermere Race Video

Pics by Paul Mitchell