Swimrun Life #4 2017 – A word from the editor

Oct 23, 2017

Although I, astonishingly, qualified for the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship, I had to decline courtesy of a pesky stress fracture that likes me too much to find a new home.

This was not an easy decision but it was the right decision, particularly in view of the course conditions this year. You needed to be full on and then some.

Instead, my husband and I decided to do the ÖTILLÖ Sprint Final 15. I know it’s not comparable to the 75 km that make up the mother of all courses, but as we’d not been able to race together this year, the Final 15 gave us a chance to swimrun the Stockholm Archipelago as a team, and work on our transitions.

When I first heard about the ÖTILLÖ Sprint races, I didn’t think it was a good fit for me. First, sprint in my mind translates to a fast short race. While my husband and I are reasonably strong open-water swimmers, we have yet to find a way to convert our love into running speed. We are not fast on our feet and, as a result, cut-off times in ÖTILLÖ full-distance swimruns are stressful for us. Still, we prefer the challenge of endurance distances – like Hvar, Engadin and, my favourite, Isles of Scilly.

I blissfully discovered that in the ÖTILLÖ Sprints there are no cut offs. Whew.

And they are for everyone, from teams of debutants to seasoned swimrunners. The vibe’s akin to a 10km in terms of scope of experience but with all the energy and enjoyment, and the shorter distance does not diminish your exertion factor.

Second, I thought the Sprint swimruns were an introductory stepping-stone to the full-distance courses, therefore practised swimrunners need not apply.

Not true. I discovered on the ferry to Utö that many of the Sprint teams, who were accompanied by family members of all ages, were “swimfunning” it for the day and had no intention of ever doing a longer distance. Sure, the Final 15 was a chance to see the iconic ÖTILLÖ course but more so, it was a local race – most had driven a couple of hours to the ferry – and a reason to be outdoors with the family.

In terms of organisation, you get the same ÖTILLÖ treatment with the Sprint as you would the long distance. It’s like Damian Peat, Director of Operations and Sustainability at Vivobarefoot once told me: “The friendliness of the ÖTILLÖ staff, even the sweepers … they all make you feel like you are more than just a competitor.”

And that includes a hug from Race Director Michael Lemmel at the Sprint Finish Line.

NANCY HESLIN, EDITOR

Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #4 (October 2017)

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