Earlier in this blog I found a connection between Beowulf and baseball. That connection of the ancient poem to modern sport was pretty unexpected. The latest connection between Beowulf and sports is much clearer, but no less surprising.
This connection is the sport known as “swimrun”. You can read all about an English enthusiast’s setting up a new course in Australia, and get a quick summary of the sport here.
With its start in Sweden, and a slow spread throughout Europe (so far mostly England, it sounds like), “swimrun” is a marathon that involves (unsurprisingly) swimming and running. The twist comes in with the condition that competitors must wear running shoes and a wetsuit for the entire race and carry certain gear as well.
Unfortunately, this article doesn’t specify what kind of gear needs to be carried, but given the analog to Beowulf’s swimming race with Breca, it wouldn’t surprise me if the gear was something that tried to replicate the weight and feel of a sword. Interestingly, though, given the fact that Beowulf is an Old English poem about Nordic peoples, the only explicit reference to Beowulf and Breca’s swimming race associated with swimruns (as far as I know) is the name of English enthusiast Ben de Rivaz’s new course. That name is, quite simply, the Breca Wanaka SwimRun.
Though the name of his course isn’t the only reference to the swimming race in Beowulf. De Rivaz’s also requires competitors to race in pairs.
Movie, book, theatrical, and TV adaptations are one thing, but it’s great to see that Beowulf is inspiring people in other spheres as well. It just shows that fans of Beowulf have diverse interests, which suggests to me that the poem really has a broad appeal.
Though, I think Beowulf has a few advantages over other literature when it comes to broad appeal. I mean, how can you go wrong with something that’s literature but also includes magic, monsters, and even a dragon?
Along with Breca and Beowulf’s swimming race, Quidditch and other sports from books have been adapted to real life settings. If you could put together a club or league based on a game from any book which would you choose? Let me know in the comments!
I’m a big fan of any race that lets me explain why I came in dead last by spinning a tall tale of all the sea-monsters I fought on the way.
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