“I have been to hell and back and let me tell you it was EPIC”
The cold water of the Baltic Sea was not only beginning to affect my judgement, it was in full blossom. I could only think of two things: a hot sauna and “What the hell are we doing here”.
When first I got into the business of running in a wetsuit and swimming in shoes some ten years ago, I had NO clue what I was doing. We were absolute beginners who kind of made up the sport as we went along. As many of you know, many teams used quiet big backpacks and floatation devices designed for kids. The sport of swimrun was literally being born in front of us. The first years of Swimrun offered only one competition: ÖtillÖ, today the world Championship. In fact the sport didn’t even have a name back in the early years. We where just people who liked a good challenge and didn’t care too much about the “strangeness” of running around in the woods with wetsuits. But the spirit of teamwork, nature and of course really hard mental and physical challenges have appealed to many people these last years. The beautiful and sometimes harsh Stockholm Archipelago with its many Islands offers a perfect setting for a spectacular sport. Over the years I have done other swimrun races, but I have always found ÖtillÖ to be the original.
The ingredients for a swimrun should in my humble opinion include: A course from A to B, long and hard swims, technical trail running. Some waves to stir up things. A good teammate and some epic nature. Swimrun have been a part of my life for almost ten years now. These past years have only consisted of a few swimruns every year to concentrate on the distant cousin: Triathlon.
Tough conditions and challenging elements, just like it should be. ÖtillÖ really presented itself from its best side, the raw beautiful nature!
And still we saw sub-8 hour times!
But how does +75 km of fighting in these harsh conditions affect the body, and what should you think about when trying to recover?
Apart from pizza and beer, there are some quick tips to have in mind, especially if you are a bit older.
Have a read below and remember that there are no short-cuts in the recovery process, which is highly individual.
Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP). “How the body recovers from an ultramarathon.” Science daily, 18 February 2016.
Ultramarathon runners can expect an approximate five-to-seven-day subjective recovery post race, according to research presented this week at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting in Sacramento, Calif. The study also looked at factors that affect physical recovery and a runner’s ability to return to full running speed after participation in an ultramarathon.
The inaugural ÖtillÖ Hvar swimrun race was going to be a real challenge. Already on paper the course promised several tough challenges; swimming across a 3km open water stage, running on razor sharp rocks, climbing the many peaks of the islands, all while facing a strong and hot sun. The course was made out of some 35 km of running, nearly 11 k of swimming, with 20 transitions and tight cut-offs. Hvar, a popular destination in Croatia during high-season, seemed as a good place for a tough swimrun race.
The forecast looked promising with sunny conditions, albeit with a worrying 1-day storm coming in from the south.
Emmanuel Charpentier shares his experience of the Annecy Gravity race where he competed alongside Yves Louis. The race takes place in France around the lake d’Annecy. It’s a hilly race: 5km Swim – 34.5km Run with 2100m of ascent.
After 20 years of athletics (Track and Cross-country) and 10 years of triathlon (All distances), I found myself yearning for more authentic and natural courses more specific to my profile as a swim-runner. So, I decided in 2015 to try my hand at the Troll Enez Morbihan… It was love at first sight! I had found a new form of adventure in Swimrun.
On the Friday before the race, I meet up with Yves Louis, originally from Besancon, who is an experienced trail runner and triathlete of 2 years (He did 13hrs15 in Embrun in 2015). It’s raining and it’s hard to imagine that sunshine has been forecast for the day after next. We’re going to test out swimming roped together to decide whether to do it on race day. After a short time trying them out, we decide to go with the rope. We also discover that the water is not exactly what you would call warm. (14-15° with lows of 5° in the last 15 days).
So, why do you willingly enrol in a race that takes place, in Sweden… in December?
Well. I really don’t have a good answer for this except for being part of something epic-in-creation. I did my 1st swimrun back in 2009, ÖtillÖ, a race at the time unheard of and subjected to all kinds of adventures. It suited us who liked taking on unknown challenges and to sort out problems as they came along. Sharing the feeling with friends, the sense of camaraderie and being part of something undefined and epic. The Hellas Frostbite Swimrun Race is very much like this. It’s new and unheard of and you really don’t know what to expect. I did the 1st race in 2015 and that year it was more correct to call it the Hellas semi-Frosbite race since it was plus few degrees and no snow nor ice. This year it was totally different. Forecast was for -6, snow, winds and an expected ice sheet covering the lake. A true Frostbite challenge.