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).
I had just returned back to Victoria British Columbia after traveling to Sweden for ÖtillÖ when I received a message from Misty Becerra. She had received my name from a friend of a friend of an acquaintance (we still aren’t sure how it all transpired) who said I might be interested in teaming up with her for SwimRun NC. I quickly looked up who this Misty person was and saw that she had done ÖtillÖ in 2015 + 2016, was based out of Florida, and was a super endurance athlete. Feeling pretty accomplished after having finished ÖtillÖ ten days prior, I figured that this was a pretty awesome experience that I couldn’t really pass up. Within an hour I had responded to Misty, asked my boss for the weekend off (who said something along the lines of: “You can’t say no to this Sophia!” – it is SO helpful to have an avid endurance junkie as your boss!), bounced the idea off my boyfriend and mom (“I’m not totally crazy to race with a stranger am I?!”), and booked my flight. I had just under 6 weeks to dust off my paddles and pull-buoy, Icebugs, and burn off the delicious Swedish bread and salted butter (seriously – sooo good).
Unfortunately the lead up didn’t go exactly to plan (but when does it ever). I was working extremely long days, had a ton of commitments and was dealing with a dog that decided as soon as he turned one, he was going to turn into a rebellious teenager. Swims started to fall by the wayside, runs became short (but sweet), and fatigue quickly set in.
We had a great 2016 swimrun season! The season opened with Borensberg Swimrun at the start of May and included 13 swimrun races in 4 months! As Team Happy Swimrun by Orca we completed Borensberg Swimrun, Utö Swimrun, Stockholm Swimrun, Kustjagaren, 2XU Island Challenge, 10 Island Swimrun, and ÖtillÖ.
Going into the season we were well prepared physically and had trained specifically for the season that we had planned. We looked at all of the early races as preparation for our A-race, ÖtillÖ. And boy was there a lot of preparation and learning to do that finally got us to the finish line of ÖtillÖ! Last year, 2015, was our first season racing together and we had few expectations other than having fun, but when that resulted in an undefeated season our excitement and expectations for the 2016 season were sky high. That led to a 2016 season full of ups and downs. There were lots of podium finishes, but also sprained ankles, a DNF because of a cold, and plenty of other small setbacks that rattled us.