Jonny Brownlee might have smashed it for Team GB at the World Triathlon Series Stockholm yesterday, but next week sees a multisport race of a very different kind in Sweden as 300 athletes line up to take on the epic ÖtillÖ World Championship.
The original race of the fast-growing sport of swimrun, the event is in its 12th official year and on 4th September sees the athletes race in teams of two across 26 islands of the Stockholm archipelego. They take in tough forest trails, navigate rocky unmarked sections and battle with strong currents. In total, the course takes in 75km of beautiful yet challenging terrain with 65km of running and 10km of swimming in the Baltic Sea.
Suspense is growing ahead of the race too as last year saw records tumble as the winning men’s team, Swedish Armed Forces (Daniel Hansson and Lelle Moberg, both of Sweden) smashed the course record by 16 minutes and finished for the first time in under eight hours, coming in in 07:59:04. With Lelle sadly injured this year though, it hasn’t yet been announced who will partner Daniel for the 2017 race.
Winning men’s team, Swedish Armed Forces, on the 2016 course. Image: Nadja Odenhage
In the mixed race, last year’s world champs Eva Nyström (SWE) and Adriel Young (AUS) are back to defend their titles. Both from a very strong triathlon and adventure-racing background, they competed together for the first time in 2016 and smashed the course record by 5 minutes, despite Eva having had her first baby only four months previously! They’ll have strong competition though, as 2015 champs Staffan Björklund (SWE) and Marika Wagner (SWE) line up as well.
In the women’s race, Annika Ericsson and Kristin Larsson (both SWE) put in amazing performances in 2016, breaking the women’s course record by almost an hour to finish in 09:32:03. They’re back together as Team Addnature/Campz this year and are hoping for another world-beating performance.
We spoke to Annika earlier this week: “We haven’t changed much since last year but I think we both are stronger and have improved our weaknesses,” she said. “This year we have really done the races we have wanted and not done too many. This I think makes us stronger because we are not tired yet of the season. We will try and go faster than last year, but it all depends on the weather conditions etc of course!”
Annika Ericsson and Kristin Larsson during the 2016 race. Image: Nadja Odenhage
Brits looking strong
Being able to train in the Swedish terrain has huge advantages (hence the mostly Swedish podiums!), however as swimrun gains popularity through the World Series races and other ÖtillÖ merit races pop up around the globe, there’s more chance to race than before, which sees international teams gaining in experience.
From GB this year, we’ll see 20 athletes on the start line. We’re expecting strong performances from Andrew Maclean, who lives and trains in Stockholm and races this year with new partner Johanna Wallenstein (SWE) in the mixed class as Team Wolff Wear Swimrun.
“We have trained together a few times this year and did one smaller race together, where we came first,” Andrew told us. “My main goal is time-based like last year when I wanted to go sub 10hrs and Helen Maalinn, (EST) and I did 09:50 so goal accomplished! This year my time goal is 09:30 or under. And hopefully a top 10 spot – although how that goes is hard to predict as there are so many fast semi-pro mixed teams this year!”
In the women’s class, Isobel Joiner and Rosemary Byde are back after qualifying with a strong performance at ÖtillÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes in Germany. Rosemary told us: “Last year when we raced, we wanted to go an hour faster than the year before and we did just that – by racing smarter and knowing when to keep concentrated, when to come off the tow, what kind of shoes to wear etc. This year we want to go faster again, but there are not such easy gains and the weather can play a big part!”
Watch the race live
The ÖtillÖ World Championship race is on Monday 4th September and coverage starts at 4:45am British time. 220 Triathlon Editor Helen Webster will be in Sweden and presenting as part of the live webcast team.
Watch it live here and follow all the action through social media by using the hashtag #otillo. Find out more about the race series by visiting www.otilloswimrun.com.