The Highland Lakes Challenge: What Is It, How To Participate, and Where to Stay

Image of Swimmers participating in the Highland Lakes Challenge

October has officially arrived and that means it’s time for the Highland Lakes Challenge once again. For one week, swimmers from all over the world will travel to Central Texas to participate in this open water stage race spanning all five of the Highland Lakes. With the first race kicking off on the shores of Willow Point, this time of year is a favorite of ours and we’re always excited to welcome a new group of swimmers.

What is the Highland Lakes Challenge?

The Highland Lakes Challenge is an annual week-long event where swimmers come to the beautiful Texas Hill Country to participate in open water swim stage races. The Challenge is known as the world’s first open swimming stage race and has even been featured in Swimming World Magazine.

Image of one of the Inks Lakes in the Texas Hill Country taken by a Highland Lakes Challenge attendee

The Highland Lakes Challenge began in 2007 and at the time, was the only open swimming stage race in the world. What is a swimming stage race? Stage races are most common in cycling. You’ve likely heard of the most famous and well-known cycling stage race, the Tour de France. However, swimming stage races are much rarer and today, only a few, including the Highland Lakes Challenge, exist in the world.

A swimming stage race is when competitors race over multiple courses in different stages. A participant’s cumulative time from each stage race is then used to determine their final ranking. The Highland Lakes Challenge races are open water stage races that take place over all five lakes. The different races vary in distance ranging anywhere from one-mile races to a combined 15 miles for those participating in the Monster Challenge. 

The Different Highland Lakes Challenge Races

Image of Highland Lakes Challenge Swimmer in Lake Buchanan near our Texas Lake Resort

There are several different types of races that swimmers can enter into. Dates and prices for each race vary with some races spanning as many as five days. There are the early bird, on-time, and late entry prices available. You can register for early bird pricing on or before August 31st, on-time pricing from September 1st to October 2nd, and late entry pricing after October 3rd if tickets are still available at that time. 

The two main multi-day races for the Highland Lakes Challenge are the Monster Challenge and the Weekend Warrior. The Monster Challenge consists of swimming all five of the Highland Lakes over the course of five days with the races covering a combined 15 miles. The Weekend Warrior race takes place on three of the lakes on three consecutive days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and covers approximately eight miles in total.

Below are the details for both the Monster Challenge and Weekend Warrior races for 2019:

The Highland Lakes Monster Challenge

Location: Five lakes (Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Marble Falls, Lake Travis)

Dates: October 23-27th

Price: $375 (early bird), $400 (on-time), $450 (late entry)

The Highland Lakes Weekend Warrior

Location: Three lakes (Lake LBJ, Marble Falls, Lake Travis)

Dates: October 25-27th

Price: $225 (early bird), $250 (on-time), $300 (late entry)

Other Highland Lakes Challenge races include the individual day stage races that range from one mile to 4.2 miles, each taking place on one of the Highland Lakes throughout the week. All of the races begin at 9 am each day but check-in for the races starts at 8:15 am.

Below are the details for the individual day stage races for 2019:

Buchanan Buster

Distance: 4 to 4.2 miles

Location: Lake Buchanan (starts at our very Willow Point Resort!)

Dates: October 23rd

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

TEX’s Darn Challenge

Distance: 3 to 3.5 miles

Location: Inks Lake

Dates: October 24th

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

LBJ Loop

Distance: 2 to 2.5 miles

Location: Lake LBJ

Dates: October 25th

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

Swim the Canyon

Distance: 3.1 to 3.5 miles

Location: Marble Falls

Dates: October 26th

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

Home Stretch 5k

Distance: 3.1 to 3.6 miles

Location: Lake Travis

Dates: October 27th

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

Lake LBJ Mile Swim

Distance: 1 mile

Location: Lake LBJ

Dates: October 25th

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

Marble Falls Mile Swim

Distance: 1 mile

Location: Marble Falls

Dates: October 26th

Price: $75 (early bird), $85 (on-time), $99 (late entry)

The Highland Lakes Challenge Awards

Although we like to believe that the Highland Lakes Challenge is more about the fun than the prizes, awards will be presented to the winners of both the Monster Challenge and the Weekend Warrior races. For the Monster Challenge, awards will go to both the top men and top women of the race. In addition, for each day’s Monster stage, the top finisher will receive a certificate good for one of Bluebonnet Cafe’s infamous and delicious pies. Each day, all participants and volunteers will also receive a certificate for a slice of pie from Bluebonnet Cafe.

Image of participants in the Highland Lakes Challenge near our Texas lake cabin rentals

Where to Stay for the Highland Lakes Challenge

Because participants come from near and far for this event, we always recommend booking a place to stay close by the Highland Lakes. At Willow Point Resort, we love hosting swimmers and their friends and families for this event. Our quaint waterfront cabins situated along Lake Buchanan make Willow Point the perfect home base for anyone participating in the Highland Lakes Challenge.

Image of the view from our Texas lake cabin rentals. This is Cabin 6.

Each of our cabins sleeps up to six people and include a kitchenette, as well as all the essentials you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Plus, every cabin has direct views of beautiful Lake Buchanan. What’s better? You’ll be waking up right at the first race site!

Willow Point is the starting point for the first stage race of the Highland Lakes Challenge, the Buchanan Buster. Not only that, but our resort is also in close proximity to several of the other races. The site of the second race on Inks Lake is only minutes away and our cabins are also conveniently located to the third race that takes place at Lake LBJ and the fourth race on Lake Marble Falls. Swimmers generally stay at Willow Point for the first four races and then move to stay closer to the last race on Lake Travis

If you’re looking for a little more room for your group, consider our private lake house that can fit up to 25 people with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, two living areas, and one huge kitchen. Whether you want to stay in our quaint cabins or our expansive lake house, we’d love to welcome you to our beautiful resort for however long you’d like to stay.

An Exclusive Deal For Swimmers

We’re so thrilled to be a part of this year’s Highland Lakes Challenge that we’re offering a 20% discount for participating swimmers! Whether you’re only looking to stay one night or several, we’d love to have you. When booking your cabin, just call 512-793-5000 and ask for the “swimmer rate.” With the races only a few weeks away, be sure to give us a call soon to reserve your cabin. We can’t wait to host you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.