In #3 2017, Swimrun Life Magazine

By Christofer Sundberg

“I’m so proud of you, but … you are a Bumblebee. Science says that a Bumblebee should not be able to fly.” Paulina said this to me on Friday night before I went to Utö on Saturday morning. For those of you who don’t know Paulina, this is expressed with the utmost portion of love and support.

Maybe that’s the way it is? Science says that the Bumblebee should not be able to fly since its aerodynamic capabilities are really bad. Of course, this is not something that the Bumblebee bothers too much about with its 200 flaps per second and unquestionably it flies since we see Bumblebees every summer. The conclusion of this is: Fuck what you’ve heard. Believe in what you see.

This is the first post in quite some time and I have maybe thought myself through the fall and winter. A lot of negative thoughts have haunted my brain since the injuries this fall but I think the only one that didn’t believe in me was myself.

All in all, to summarise the fall and winter: Fuuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk.

The intervals at Stockholm Stadium have given great results for all of us.

So, my preparations for the swimrun season of 2017 have been composed by running on routine along the same tracks (boring and lonely) and during the most recent months intervals, T-pace and hill intervals (fun and in company of good friends). These both have give and takes.

Me and Philip Robson travelled to Utö in the morning of the 27th of May. Daniel (my swimrun partner for this race) had some family business to attend to so he took the chartered boat out the morning after.

We had coffee, cheered the racers on ÖTILLÖ Sprint Utö, where my friend Theo Zetterström (Ångaloppet) participated with his sister.

The heat was tangible and we suffered a little bit with the contestants, who were literally pouring sweat on the runs. Like always during swimrun races, there was a very positive vibe and everyone felt really happy that “the real” swimrun season (ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar was after all first) could begin.

I felt in really good shape and was both motivated and happy as we entered the starting pit.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent having coffee, socialising with various friends and having a solid dinner with Philip, my friend Dennis from HEAD and the swimrun legend Mats Andersson. During dinner I ran into Michael Lemmel and sold him some consultant services as in Philip, who was supposed to have a nice relaxing day on the trails of Utö cheering us as we progressed. Now all of a sudden he was a part of the race staff. His task (as HedSec as we called him) was to run after the very last team and make sure no one passed out and was left in some bush along the trails. We did a quick headcount and realised it would mean about 30-35 km of running for him on the job. Sorry chief, but I can’t help being a salesman … Well, it wasn’t all like that. In fact, Michael talked Philip into it with his soothing and convincing voice. I told the guys about Paulina’s comparison with the Bumblebee and suddenly I was the Bumblebee for the rest of the evening.

Before bedtime, I had to kick Philip’s ass in some races in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on my Nintendo Switch. I never leave home without it … In his defence, it was the first time he played it or even tried it out and he beat me on several races, so the man has talent.

The morning after, we woke up, had breakfast (waffles with Nutella), met up with Daniel, attended the race brief and got ready for combat.


  • HEAD Aero swimrunsuit, cut 1/4 av the sleeve
  • HEAD swimrun west
  • Fusion comp 3 short tights
  • Colting Wetsuits calfguards
  • GoCoCo compression socks
  • Salomon S-Lab Speed trailshoes
  • StrokeMaster Mid paddles
  • HEAD buoy (two glued together)
  • HEAD Tiger Mid goggles
  • Camaro hood
  • 4 SIS Gels with caffeine/electrolytes and 4 CLIF Bloks with caffeine
  • A lot of Sportslick over my entire body
  • A Garmin Fenix 3 HR borrowed from Ida at Garmin (Many thanks Ma’am!) as I left mine at home

I didn’t have that feeling to continue and my body just yelled at me: ”What the hell are you doing?! Stop!”

I felt in really good shape and was both motivated and happy as we entered the starting pit. I met a bunch of old and new friends and the vibe was very positive.

The starting shot went off and we ran in a good pace along with the other 270 teams up the hill towards Utö Värdshus (the Inn). We set the timer on the watch to 30 minutes for a frequent energy intake. This year the organisers had rerouted the course a little bit, so instead of the traditional right turn at Utö Värdshus we took a left right before the Inn and ran a loop around the area to then ran along the road down to the first swim. During the night I had many thoughts about that first swim, as you are not allowed to connect yourself to your partner with a cord during the first run and swim. Fully understandable obviously after last years chaos when some dude swam right over me three times. I got into the water and tried to keep up with Daniel ”Sir SwimALot” Becker as much as I could, but the distance between us increased by the minute. In the crowd of hundreds of swimmers I felt like the Orphaned on the Ocean and even though I had a good view of Daniel’s yellow paddles, it was a mental and physical mess. As I ascended the shore on the other side nothing felt fun. I didn’t have that feeling to continue and my body just yelled at me: ”What the hell are you doing?! Stop!”

We ploughed along the fantastic trails on Ängsholmen. The environment is absolutely gorgeous, but I kept on digging deeper and deeper into the negative ditch in my head. The second swim felt better for a short while but as soon as I stepped ashore I was back into the ditch again. Trailrunning is my forte and the run across Ålö, which usually is a very fun stretch, became pure terror. Daniel pressed on and kept on pushing me. I could feel and hear he was increasingly frustrated with my whining, despite being the most humble guy on the planet. He called my attention to us being increasingly close to miss the cut-off at Båtshaket.
Missing a cut-off?! WTF?!

Right there and then it didn’t feel too bad for my own sake, but for the team it would have been a disaster. We made the cut-off with a few minutes to spare and for a short second I got my spirits up.

The swim between Båtshaket on 430m felt ok and my spirits grew a bit. We had battled over three hours and I had whined for three hours. Poor Daniel …

The almost 4km run between Laxvik and Kobryggan felt ok. In the beginning of this run we bumped into Philip who was not happy at all to see us as he was supposed to keep check on the teams falling seriously behind.

I was deep down inside some negative hole and I could barely smile as Philip and Daniel was cracking jokes a bunch of jokes that I would normally find funny. Anyways, during the run Daniel commanded us to run for five minutes, walk one, and this stretch actually passed pretty painless. The ghosts in my head stopped tormenting me and I started to focus on the goal. I did not want to disappoint Daniel, Paulina, my parents, her parents … If that wasn’t enough I had put my chin out pretty far about my training before this race so quitting was, finally, not an option.

My terror, the almost 7km run between Ryssnäset and Ryssugnarna went surprisingly painless and Daniel pulled us through like a knife through butter. We passed several teams along the road and Daniel kept the spirits high which increased the motivation for both of us. The only option now was to plough through and suck it up … Once we reached the swim over to St Persholmen, the spirits were high even though the time to the next cut-off was tight (Daniel fooled me here the SOB, but got me going. Thanks Chief!) We passed several teams on this swim and spirits were back where they are supposed to be.

We quickly downed a couple of cups of Redbull at the energy station and chewed on during the 4km run through the woods on Utö. The goal felt pretty damn close. I was getting increasingly sour in my legs at this time, but I had no reason to whine and the positive vibe just kept on increasing as the end got closer and closer.

The short swims and runs at the end went by fast and soon it was over. We passed the finish line at 6:56, a time that felt horribly bad, but passing that line was an achievement both for Daniel who had to drag this whining sack of shit through a tough race and me who had to dig myself out of a hole I had dug myself.

Our final position was 182 out of 277 so that is not too bad and as Daniel said; ”This was a great training before the 4th of September and the World Championships.” It was my first long run since Rockman Swimrun last year, so all in all, I’m quite happy for our achievement.

ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö is not an easy race and anyone who has crossed that finish line will agree with me for sure.

What went right:

  • Equipment (see above)
  • The energy we carried
  • Running with a stretch cord
  • No chafing
  • A partner with a hell of a positive vibe

What went wrong:

  • Not enough longer runs on my behalf

There’s not more to say about this fantastic, painful, wonderful race. ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö is not an easy race and anyone who has crossed that finish line will agree with me for sure. It’s not an entry race to swimrun and that comes from me having just seven swimruns during my relatively short swimrun career, but I still know what I’m getting myself into.

I had a bad day but it wasn’t my physical shape. On the contrary, it was my mental shape and the ghosts in my head became my worst enemy. I had to fight them hard to get rid of them. Today I suffer a little bit from sore legs and shoulders but that’s just the way it should be.

In about two weeks Borås Swimrun awaits together with Philip “HedSec” Robson and after having doing that race last year, I know it’s a challenge like Utö with a lot of elevation gain, cold swims and fun trails. To my advantage this race, the season has started. The downside is that Daniel, who is a positive trooper without comparison, had to endure my moaning and whining during the first race of the season. Daniel and I have Rockman Swimrun and the ultimate goal – ÖtillÖ The World Championship on September 4th. By then my head and body will be in flawless shape.

Lastly, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Michael and Mats for a great race arrangement. I’ve been honoured to get to know these two gentlemen during the last few months while discussing passion-driven companies and all the challenges we face as entrepreneurs. These guys organise each race with the same energy, same passion and same commitment regardless if you are the guy who finishes as #1 or drag yourself through the finish line hours after the winners. No one who finishes an ÖTILLÖ race is less than a hero in these guys eyes and for that I have huge respect.

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Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #3 (July 2017)

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