200 swimmers set to take on unique obstacle swim race at Maryhill Locks, Glasgow.
Top Scottish swimmer Mark Deans will be defending his title next month as he takes on the UKâ€™s most bizarre open-water event.
TheÂ Red Bull Neptune Steps uphill swimming event returns to Maryhill Locks in Glasgow on April 9 and looks set to be an even more exciting race to watch.
While all 200 places have sold out â€“ in an amazing nine minutes â€“ many people will attend the event to watch the swimmers race 420m and climb eightÂ lock gate obstacles.
As Mark, 21, of Glasgow, prepares for the Neptune Steps race, he said: â€œIt was a really tough event last year. It was very cold and a lot harder than I thought it would be.
â€œI still enjoyed it though and I am looking forward to my attempt to be the winner for the second year.â€
What is Red Bull Neptune Steps?
This is the second year that the swimming race has come to Glasgow. Billed as â€œthe toughest open water swim in the UKâ€, the particpantsÂ race over a total distance of 420m of swimming and climb up 18 metres over eight canal lock gates.
Last year, the water temperature was just 9C in the Forth & Clyde Canal and the swimmers, including some of the UK and Irelandâ€™s top endurance athletes, wore wetsuits to keep out the extreme cold.
Euan Godon, of event organisers Red Bull, said: â€œThis race pushes participants to their limits in a test of speed, strength and resolve.
â€œIt is also an exciting race to watch and we hope to see even bigger crowds of spectators at the 2016 event.â€
The event launchedÂ in 2015Â as the first fully supervised swimming event to take place in a Scottish canal. It featured some of the toughest and most experienced swimmers, who were brave enough to take on the challenging course and water temperatures.
This year, once again, each lock gate will feature a different obstacle, including cargo nets, ropes, wooden ladders, rope ladders and a climbing wall.
Mark, a successful international open water swimmer, said: â€œThe race might only by 420 metres, which is nothing compared to the 5k and 10k races that I usually compete in, but it was tough because of the cold and the obstacles.
â€œI was first to the first lock gate but while I was on the cargo net, someone else climbed on and that made it very tricky to complete. It was moving about and unbalanced me.”
Mark, who is also co-owner of TryKiteSurfingÂ in Troon, added: “There is nothing else like this event.Â Itâ€™s the mix of extreme cold, swimming and tiring obstacles that make this such a great event to compete in â€“ and to watch.â€
Irish triathlete Con Doherty will also be competing next month. He is one as one of the worldâ€™s leading triathlon juniors.
He said: â€œIâ€™m delighted Iâ€™ll be taking part. Itâ€™s such a unique racing format and it looks ridiculously challenging.â€
Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Canals, said: â€œWeâ€™re delighted to welcome Red Bull Neptune Steps back to Glasgow again and what better way to celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design than by transforming a scheduled monument into the venue for a world-class, high-octane adventure race?
â€œScotlandâ€™s canals attract 22 million visits a year from cyclists, walkers, runners, boaters, paddlers and anglers around the world and are a major part of the nationâ€™s leisure and tourism industry. By using them in new and exciting ways, they can create jobs, stimulate business and help drive regeneration across urban and rural areas.â€
To find out more see Red Bull Neptune Steps.