We started off in early April with the windy ÖTILLÖ Hvar, which put us in a good place from an organisation standpoint as it made us really think about what is most important during an event. For us, it’s having the responsiveness to be able to act and re-act to make sure that the races are never compromised.
When ÖTILLÖ Utö weekend came along – the biggest ÖTILLÖ Swimrun weekend ever with 88 sprint teams and almost 300 World Series teams – we were ready for the storm. Then followed ÖTILLÖ Isles of Scilly, three weeks later and ÖTILLÖ Engadin three weeks after that. All in all, a little over 160 sprint teams and 550 World Series teams in six weeks and in three different locations.
It’s beautiful to see how our organisation has worked together with local volunteers and suppliers to deliver three top-notch events in a row, all with big smiles on their faces. Everyone has just taken on the tasks at hand and done incredible work under quite a lot of pressure. Thank you!
When we then look at the other side of the table, the racing, we now have 32 new teams who have managed to come through some very hard racing to qualify for the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship. Needless to say, they are now up for a whole new ball-game as ÖTILLÖ is one big morsel to chew.
What pleases me the most is that the energy and atmosphere at all the events has been so warm and friendly, with so many people writing to us after the event to express how different participating in ÖTILLÖ is compared to other races, and how welcome they all feel. Everyone involved in all the events – from volunteers to sponsors, the media, the production teams and racers – has contributed to building this special atmosphere.
Some moments in particular come to mind:
At ÖTILLÖ Utö, most of the teams were terrified of the cold water. In fact, almost everyone baked. It was a magnificent Swedish summer weekend and the water temperatures were actually warm for the period.
What pleases me the most is that the energy and atmosphere at all the events has been so warm and friendly.
At ÖTILLÖ Isles of Scilly, the Atlantic Ocean was calm, like a swimming pool and with near tropical weather.
We had our first deaf couple start and finish ÖTILLÖ Isles of Scilly.
Who will ever forget the last night outside the pub, hanging on the sea wall and watching the sunset together?
At ÖTILLÖ Engadin, a mega thunderstorm in the middle of the race clearly showed us all that nature will never be tamed.
All the hugs that Mats has shared at the finish line, as he does for the Qualifying events and I get to do them for the World Championship.
The amount of energy that Mats and I still have left for the rest of the season thanks to our brilliant production teams.
We now have a couple of weeks to properly prepare for the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship. At this point, it’s safe to say that the race will be very tough, with the best line-up ever. Everyone has raised the bar substantially and it will be fascinating to be part of this massive human feat – to go so hard for so long – the total being slightly more than 75km over and between 26 islands, in difficult and constantly changing terrain.
To get a small taste of what all the teams go through we have the beautiful ÖTILLÖ Final 15K on Saturday, September 2nd, that allows anyone to participate in a modified sprint version of the last 15 km of the mythical ÖTILLÖ course. Not to be missed.
Then, on September 4th, you need to be ready for the BIG one, either if it is racing or LIVE on our website – otilloswimrun.com/live – for the very intense live coverage that you’ll also find described here, in this issue of SwimrunLife.
Besides all of this we are extremely proud of the exposure we have received from the Swedish Ministry for foreign affairs. Check it out. #saveourocean
All we take is memories; all we leave is footprints
Michael & Mats
Race Directors ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #3 (July 2017)