Here's what you missed at Red Bull Neptune Steps
Mark Deans and Jennifer Davis crowned winners of the tough, open-water adventure race.
Red Bull Neptune Steps 2017 took place in Glasgow's Maryhill Locks this weekend. Cold water, climbing over lock gates and a 420m uphill swim was always going to be full of excitement. Throw in 320 competitors, including Red Bull athletes big wave surfer Andrew Cotton, and triathletes Gordon Benson and Con Doherty, and you've got yourself a cracking, albeit cold, event.
After two previous heats, a nail biting final saw Mark Deans, the competitive Glaswegian open-water swimmer, take the UK podium for a third time in a row with a time of under six minutes (05.48). Deans also placed first in Red Bull Neptune Steps, Sweden, in 2016. His winning streak remains unbroken.
Speaking immediately after the race Mark said: "That was excruciatingly painful, the closest finish that I’ve had. I could just hear the crowds cheering which spurred me on. It looked like I wasn’t going to get it at one point but I’ve been in these positions before. No matter where you are you just give it your all until the very end. My win just proves that. It’s an honour I’m really chuft. I’ll be back next year."
No matter where you are you just give it your all until the very end. My win just proves that.
Andrew Horsfall-Turner came in second and Marc Austin took third.
The female race was equally as hard fought. 25-year-old Jennifer Davis took the crown, with Lilyella Craw-Seamen coming in second and Fiona Gibson in third.
Davis plays water polo for Scotland. "I’ve never done anything like this before so I wondered how I’d do, but I thought I had a good chance," she said.
"Winning feels fantastic. After the heat I knew that I could get it, I just had to go for it. The climbing was probably the hardest part because your hands get so cold and you can’t really feel if you’re holding on properly. I’ll be back next year for sure, it was great fun, I loved it."
Former Olympian and sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte also took part in the event. He’s helped David Walliams swim the Thames and the English Channel, Davina McCall to complete a 506 mile ultra-triathlon, and Eddie Izzard to run a remarkable 43 marathons in 50 days.
"This is my first time at Neptune Steps," said Whyte. "Before the event I’d been tweeting calling it lunacy – but now I know it definitely is! I’d love to come back next year as it’s such a festival, there aren’t many events like this. It’s obstacle racing in it’s most brutal form, but everyone is working together as they know how tough it is and the crowd – they just love it. They looked like they were looking on in awe that we’re just nutters."
Fancy your chances in 2018? Whyte has this advice:
"If you’re coming next year I’d recommend getting into the gym and do pull-ups and dips, because I’d say a good 75% of this race is on the climbs. The swim is almost the respite, the obstacles are the killers! The water is in your face, you can’t breathe – but it’s absolutely fantastic!"