Extreme Sports and Races in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Local adventure-sports events leave participants dirty, tired — and exhilarated


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eight bridges swimIn the swim: Marathon swimmers leap into the Hudson during last year’s Eight Bridges Swim

Photograph by Greg Porteus

Eight Bridges Swim

Length: 13 to 120 miles
Known for: Wrinkled skin

You’ve no doubt heard of marathon running — but did you know there’s a sport called marathon swimming? For the second year in a row, practitioners of this particular form of physical torture take to the waters of the Hudson for the Eight Bridges Swim: Starting at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Catskill, they crawl, backstroke, butterfly, or dog-paddle from one span to the next, ending at the Verranzano Narrows Bridge in New York Harbor seven days later. “They are in the water for five to eight hours a day, swimming with the ebb current,” says Rondi Davies, a co-organizer of the event with High Falls’ David Barra, a marathon swimmer who — among other accomplishments — has swum across the English Channel. “The shortest day is 13 miles, then there are two days of 20 miles — it’s 120 miles altogether.” Twenty hardy souls took part in this challenge last year, although just two completed the full distance. “Most people come to do just one day, then go home,” says Davies. “Most of them had done a marathon swim [of at least six miles] before, although we don’t have strict qualifications. You don’t have to be a super athlete to take part.” Marathon swimming is a fast-growing sport, says Davies, who likens the Eight Bridges event to hiking on the Appalachian Trail: “You’re just getting into the water every day, swimming and enjoying the scenery.” June 25-July 2; www.8bridges.org

» Go to Hudson Valley Sports, Recreation & Fitness Guide
» Next extreme challenge: Escarpment Trail Run


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