Race Directors’ Moment: a screaming start to the season
Only one team is left in the pursuit of one million Swedish Krona – Team Swedish Armed Forces – with Lelle Moberg and Daniel Hansson from Sweden winning “the Golden Jersey” in a fierce battle at the front of ÖTILLÖ Hvar.
The 2017 ÖTILLÖ swimrun season started with the ÖTILLÖ swimrun weekend in Hvar, Croatia, on April 1st and 2nd. It was the first time we produced the event there and we were a bit on our toes hoping that it would match our expectations.
As a location, Hvar is a swimrun dream come true and with the fantastic support from the town and the locals, we had the stage set. The consensus is that it’s worth spending time in Hvar, and it will be an ideal place both for future events and for training camps, like the one May 13-20. (see article in Swimrun Life# 1)
As for the Sprint and the World Series events, we all became too aware of the power of nature and what we need to do to manage it. We all learned lessons from this year for future races and for next year in Hvar.
After the stellar performance of Lelle and Daniel, they yet again proved why they are currently the fastest team on the planet. For a while it looked like four teams would push each other all the way to the end but Lelle’s erratic swimming and small sprints during the last swim combined with Daniel’s hard drive up the hill from the water, gave them the breakaway from the chasing teams to win the race and earn the Golden Jersey.
In the mixed category, Annika Ericsson, teaming up with Stefano Prestinion, showed once again why she is the reigning women’s world champion, giving the leading Mens’ teams a run for their money. They were in the lead for a while and finished 5th overall.
In the Women’s category, Diane Sadik (SUI) and Charlotte Ericksson (SWE) showed how strong they are in the water and how quick they are on their feet.
The Golden Jersey
As mentioned, Daniel Hansson and Lelle Moberg will be racing in the Golden Jersey at ÖTILLÖ Utö on May 28th. They’ll have to win the race to hold on to the jersey and the dream of the one million SEK prize awarded to the team that can win all ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series races this year.
At ÖTILLÖ Utö they will be chased yet again by the top world teams on a course that is extremely intense, where the slightest mistake could be the end. At the end of May, the weather is usually quite stable but it could also prove very difficult. The expected water temps are somewhere around 10°C. In Hvar, people were at times too cold or too hot; it’ll be the same at Utö. In a nutshell, this is swimrun.
To best way to adapt to the course variations is to train as like you’ll race: the tougher the conditions the better the training so that you can be ready for anything. If you are sensitive to the cold, don’t stay in the pool but get out now for short sessions in the open water, to relax mentally and to get over the fear. More and more of us go in the water year round in “skins” just to become friends with the cold.
When swimming big sea open water sections like in Hvar and on the Isles of Scilly, you must also prepare in terms of how to navigate in wind, waves and current. Coming straight out of the pool simply doesn’t work. Many of the stronger teams alternate in those long swims, they use landmarks on shore to navigate and they spend a lot of time on Google Earth to see what the terrain really looks like. Naturally we do a good job of marking the course but it will never be like a triathlon.
The same applies for dealing with altitude in Engadin, and managing tough trail runs as on Utö, Hvar and on the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship course.
For us, the beauty of how we produce swimrun is that we constantly want to reinvent ourselves, so that no course is alike and that there are always new challenges to manage. We’ll always have something to learn, that’s how life should be.
We look forward to seeing you out there.
Michael & Mats
Race Directors ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue # 2 (Apr/May 2017)