Midnight Sun Swimrun Äkäslompolo 2016 – Race Report

It does not happen often – but this event left me lost for words. I will try anyway – but do not expect something objective here…

We arrived on our bikes (a decision that probably did not lead tot he fastest legs in the race :o) on Friday night around 7, when organiser Janne was just finishing the course marking in front oft he Lodge we’d booked ourselves into. He stopped, looked at us, smiled – and we almost felt like coming home. Just the mosquitoes prevented a longer ceremony… Getting into Lodge 67 N we felt as welcome and as much at home. What a start.
The next day was rest day. Sleep. Breakfast. Sleep. Lunch. Sleep. Early dinner. Race briefing right in front of our door. We got another warm welcome, some insights about the course and the precious advise to stop once in a while, turn around and take in a 360 degree view (we did that dance several times – and it was always well worth the time). After the briefing: some more sleep. And suddenly: RACETIME!

In a (literally) hot-headed decision I last-minute-cut my wetsuit and felt pretty ‘airy’ during the the lovely pre-start ceremony of introducing every team and it’s members to the rest of the starters. Then off we went. A short run followed by a longer swim – and getting out of the water my hands and feet were numb from cold.
The water temperature was totally ok (around 16° Celsius) but with cut-off arms and legs my suit just didn’t work. While swimming, the water streamed into my arms like a counterflow determined to stop me. Had the water or air been just a little colder, I most probably wouldn’t have been able to finish. So we went on to experience 10 runs and 9 swims in a truly wonderful race.
Breathtaking. Heartwarming. Just perfect. Blooming swamps. Topmodel-like runways. Mystical hidden lakes. Fairytale forests. Murmuring creeks. Fly-over rocks.
Baby-pastel skies. Flowing downhills. Down-on-all-fours climbs. A green stone desert (!!!). Undescribable views. Dramaqueen clouds. Lose-your-shoe-in mud. And uncountable encouraging smiles and words along the course (we had soccer-goal-services!). On the ascends I even got a little warmer (my watch showed almost a thousand meters positive altitude gain – which made for a finishing time half an hour more than at Utö this year, although the course there was quite a bit longer…).
The only thing not perfect – apart from my own scissor-decision: Having to take a toilet break where millions of mosquitoes are waiting to bite your ass. But I survived that, too and we made it to the last swim – a long one, with choppy water and quite difficult orientation.
When we got out of the water, we could already see the finish line – and passed the sauna on the beach that was waiting for us.
Also waiting for us was Janne, who joined us for the final sprint, and heaps of hugs and happiness. Oh, fine food and beers were there, too…After a very short night we had a delicious finisher brunch and tearfull (at least on my part) award ceremony. Everyone was awarded with something (apart from cheers and applause from all others) and it felt like being part of a whole happy swimrun family (it really did). We made second women’s, fifth overall (it’s not a secret that on the long course there where only five teams, two of them women’s 😉 – let’s see when that will happen again…I have never before experienced any race or other event that felt so much like family. And was yet so thoughtfully organized and perfectly run. Another big hug and a grateful THANK YOU, Janne and Anu, and THANK YOU, too, to everyone else who was invoved to put this thing to life.
See you all at #midnightsunswimrun2017
Experienced and written by Team CoolTours – Nico Gross & Kathrin Lösing
Do you have a race report you want to share with the world? Email us. /The WoS Team

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