9 minute read
One of the toughest swimrun races on the planet returned this month in the most successful and exciting world championships in ÖTILLÖ’s history.
Situated amongst the incredible scenery in the breathtaking Stockholm archipelago, don’t let the course’s beautiful location fool you into thinking that this event is anything but brutal.
If you’re familiar with ÖTILLÖ swimrun, you will know just how hard these endurance races are, and the incredible dedication required by the athletes who compete. If you are unfamiliar, brace yourself to be introduced to one of the most intense sports combining running and swimming over epic distances, difficult conditions, and punishing terrain.
The gruelling course is an exhausting 75km distance in total, with 65km of trail running and 10km of swimming in Baltic waters between 10–18°C.
Swimming between and running across 24 islands, the racers take on the challenge in teams of two and must be within a 10 metre distance between each other throughout the race to avoid disqualification.
This year, we were super excited and proud to attend the event and support our very own Team dryrobe®, Fabian Eberhard and Markus Rössel from Germany!
With records being crushed in incredible and unbelievable feats, the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship 2022 was one to remember.
The weekend kicked off with the Sprint Final on Saturday morning, showcasing the beauty of Utö and the Stockholm Archipelago in a smaller dose of 12.1km. The event is open to anyone keen to experience and absorb the impressive but challenging route, with participants having the choice to compete as a team or take it on solo. It was a privilege to see teams and individuals complete the course that consisted of 13 runs and 12 swims.
Fast forward to Sunday evening, competitors and staff assembled in Djurönäset for the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship race briefing. A sense of excitement but nervous energy could be felt in the air.
Prepared with consistent training, injury-free, and feeling in good health, Team dryrobe® appeared calm and ready for the race the following day when we caught up with them that evening. Both team members have completed the course before and knew which parts required the most focus and determination.
‘The long swim, Pig Swim, and the long run towards the end. And maybe the scrambling at the beginning as the course is very crowded. It can get a bit tricky.
We were stoked to meet many incredible athletes, including swimrun fanatics, Chipper and Chris who are on a mission to spread the word of the extreme sport through their awesome podcast, The Low Tide Boyz, since they became hooked in 2018.
The guys made the huge journey from Northern California in the US to Sweden for the world-famous race. We asked them how they were feeling about competing in the championship and how they were preparing.
‘Trying to stay super present as this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us. And it’s going to go by really fast. So as much as we can just stay in the moment and enjoy it. And just do it.’
At 3:45 am on Monday, competitors nervously fuelled up on breakfast ready for the big day ahead. An hour later, the racers loaded onto the ferry to head to the startline in Sandhamn, we were stoked to see Team dryrobe® keeping warm in their dryrobe® Advances as we headed to the island in the cold morning air.
After departing the boat, competitors swarmed the start area, ensuring they were sufficiently warmed up before their momentous journey began.The countdown to the start was incredibly nerve-wracking, with racers piling behind the start line, quietly focussing on the mission ahead. We were immensely proud to see Markus and Fabian looking determined in their number 11 dryrobe® kit by the start line.
Weather-wise, the conditions were perfect from the minute the race began to when the last team ran through the finish line in the evening.
The race has a total of 46 transitions from water to land, where teams scramble over incredibly tricky rocks and surfaces that line the islands - making an intense watch for spectators! In a phenomenal final, all records were crushed. The winning Men’s team, Hugo Tormento and Max Andersson attained their unbeatable status in the sport and annihilated the previous record by an unbelievable 38 minutes. They approached the finish line so swiftly and unexpectedly that their incredible achievement was almost missed! The Mixed Team winners, Desirée Andersson and Alexander Berggren smashed the previous record by around 25 minutes and came in fourth overall. They were the first mixed team to complete the course within eight hours, arriving at the finish line at 7:49:54,
The Female Swimrun World Champions Helena Sivertsson and Ulrika Eriksson also beat previous records in the category by 21 minutes in 8:35:56. We caught up with them to find out about the conditions and how the fast pace of the race felt.Ulrika: The weather was quite nice, cold but ok. I think the swimming was really nice and the waves were in the back and the current pushed you forward.
We have trained hard and we know the course. The swimrun sport is getting better, better, better.
Helena: It was a fast race for everyone. Us too. Crossing the finish line was incredibly emotional for all competitors and an honour to witness. We were so proud to see Team dryrobe arrive at the finishing line in an amazing time of 8:52:08 - the fastest time for both Markus and Fabian.
After some time to recuperate and hydrate, we were excited to congratulate the team and find out more about their experience.
Congratulations guys! How are you feeling?
Markus: Tired right now but happy, it was a long day. But I think the outcome really pleased us, we actually couldn’t ask for more today.
Fabian: We’re proud.
Markus: Very much.
An epic race of sub 9 hours, what were your race highlights?
Fabian: We’re very pleased that we did sub 9 hours. That was one of the highlights. Also, we kept going all the time, even in the long run. We managed to be steady and I think that’s what helped us get a good time.
You’ve raced this course several times before, how did today compare to previous races?
Markus: The conditions were perfect and I think we’ve pretty much had a rough plan and we roughly stuck to it. And, we obviously spent less time on the course, so that gives us more options for later on today.
How will you be celebrating your incredible achievement?
First of all, they have a great buffet for dinner tonight, so we will make use of that. They also have a bar at the hotel, and I think we might spend a minute or two at the bar and enjoy ourselves with all the other racers. Only meeting two days prior to the championship, GB Olympic medalist in Modern Penthalon, Heather Fell, and Swedish ÖTILLÖ Swimrun athlete Jenny Ramstedt demonstrated the importance of team support during one of the toughest endurance races in the world. Despite not training with one another previous to the race, they completed the race in an epic time of 9:50:16. Intrigued by their union as a team, we were keen to ask them how they met and what it was like to do the race together.
Heather: Through a friend. Literally like a dating thing! So a friend sold me to jenny as we know Jenny had a place.
The problem being she sold me as a strong swimmer…which I am in theory in a swimming pool but not when it comes to open water swimming with paddles.
Then I met Jenny 2 days ago for the very first time out here. And there were quite a few ‘Oh’s..’ weren’t there… What were your first impressions?
Jenny: Shall we have another pool buoy and where are the paddles?
Heather: I chose not really to swim with paddles. I tried to keep Jenny happy for the first few swims with paddles and now my arms hurt so much… But Jenny did all of the swim work and thought that I was going to do the swim work. So I have guilt about that.
I think if we ever have a future, I have to go back and do some more swim training. Think that’s the moral of that one!
Jenny: And then I improve the running part…
The exceptionally challenging nature of the event but the overwhelming sense of accomplishment in completing it was perfectly summarised by The Low Tide Boyz when we asked them if they would be back next year.
Chris: Well we will have to qualify again but if we do, I will try to convince him.
Chipper: We’ll see…
Chris: I will need to ask him in a couple of days.
Chipper: Yeah, ask me tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel after a good night’s sleep!
Chris: I’d love to do it again. I’d love to come back to Sweden. It’s an amazing place, an amazing experience. And I want to take a nap…
See the full winner’s results below and check out the full race results here.
Swimrun World Champions 2022
Winners of ÖTILLÖ - MEN
Hugo Tormento (FRA) and Max Andersson (SWE), Ark Swimrun, 7:00:59
Winners of ÖTILLÖ - MIXED
Desirée Andersson (SWE) and Alexander Berggren (SWE), Team Dessi och Alex, 7:49:54
Winners of ÖTILLÖ - WOMEN
Helena Sivertsson (SWE) and Ulrika Eriksson (SWE), Team Stena Recycling, 8:35:56
Facebook: ÖTILLÖ Swimrun
YouTube: ÖTILLÖ Swimrun
Photos from the World Championship courtesy of ÖTILLÖ, Jean Marie Gueye, and Pierre Mangez