Course record set despite stormy conditions at ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships

March 14, 2021 0 By JohnValbyNation

“Our races show the power of nature and how little we are on this spec of a world. All we can do is take care of each other.” For the 300 athletes sitting in the race briefing ahead of the 12th ÖtillÖ World Championship race in the Stockholm archipelago, these very apt words from race director Michael Lemmel saw a few nervous smiles exchanged. With winds already gusting outside and similar conditions, with heavy rain, predicted for the next day, everyone’s mind was on how the weather conditions would affect the race ahead.

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Now in its twelfth official year, the race ranked by CNN as ‘one of the world’s toughest endurance races’ involves swimming and running in teams of two across 26 islands, performing 50 transitions and covering 75km of ever-changing terrain.

Two days before, the race had also held its shorter ‘Final 15’ event (race blog report to follow). Conditions for that event were perfect, with slightly overcast skies and gentle breezes meaning competitors only had the tricky trails and occasional currents trying to slow them down.

Titles to defend

For the big one on Monday 4th September though, things couldn’t be more different. On the start line were all three reigning world champion teams: Kristin Larsson and Annika Ericsson (Team Addnature/Campz) in the women’s class, Eva Nyström and Adriel Young (Thule Crew/Trispot.se) in mixed and in the men’s class, Daniel Hansson was back with Swedish Armed Forces to defend the men’s title and world record. With Lelle Moberg out through injury however, he was this year partnered by Swedish long-distance triathlete Jesper Svensson.

The race started out fast, with the more experienced athletes going out hard and pushing the pace. Goals were on everyone’s minds though, whether it was just to finish in the case of many of the International teams unused to the terrain of the archipelago, to setting new PBs or retaining podiums in the case of the top teams. Some teams were even relishing the chance to take on the challenging conditions – including GB female team Izzy Joiner and Rosemary Byde in Sportswimrunextreme, who told us they’d been training hard on the Scottish coast in preparation for their third time on the course.

As the day went on, the predicted break in the weather didn’t arrive and conditions in fact worsened with strong currents on the second half of the course seeing even experienced swimmers pulled off course.