About nine months ago last years SwimRun spell came to an end. After an challenging amphibian-like journey, beginning in the north of the Stockholm archipelago, the notorious ÖTILLÖ SwimRun World Championship ended 75 kilometers south on the picturesque island of Utö. Precisely the same island that acted to as the finish line to a demanding season, acted host to the first big outing of the SwimRun season – Utö SwimRun. Past Sunday saw magnificent sunshine, whopping waves, tough environment and a total of 39 kilometers racing distance. Technical trail running and open water swimming in unfriendly 8-12 degree Baltic water was on tab for 200 teams of two.
The intriguing mixture of two sports that continuously alter, together with the team-racing characteristic, generates a retreat for all kinds of endurance athletes. Although there are already specialists and skilled competitors, it was SwimRun novices Nicolas Remires (France) and Julian Dent (Australia) who took the exciting course by storm. Remires, who resides in Sweden, and Dent lead a cluster of five teams early on. Although the narrow trail and off-road sections were difficult for the pair, they progressively gained ground on the more experienced teams. Both racers studied the course and used the knowledge on land corresponding with a skillful swim performance in the undulating and breezy Baltic sea. Following a mere of 34.7 km of running and 4.3 km of open water swimming the finish-line clock stopped after 3:56:48 hours at the Utö Vardshus. Already qualified through merit selection, Dent and Remires are now the hot favorites at this year’s ÖTILLÖ coming September. Caroline Holmqvist and Kristin Larsson took the women's race with an almost 10-minute advantage over Annika Ericsson and Maria Edstedt, and what turned out to be a complete Swedish podium.
As the race up front gets quicker and more skilled every year, the sport itself fascinates more and more people from all over the globe. Besides several teams from Europe, Andrew Hewitt and Sean Durkin of the San Diego rowing club made the long trip from Southern California to experience Saturdays rainy sprint race as well as the exciting Sunday turnout. Although every squad races to their very best, SwimRun already established a one-off atmosphere that is far off self-regard. Harsh nature means a contest against the course and it's specialties. Watching and motivating of the team partner is a given. But it is not only the own crew that’s in the spotlight, all the racers know to pay attention to other contenders as well as the natural setting.
Sunday’s Utö SwimRun marked the marvelous start to yet another fascinating SwimRun season that sees a further growing race calendar in Sweden as well as in Europe.
Fabian Eberhard of the author's The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB team finds grip on the slippery rocks.
The champions in the women's competition, Caroline Holmqvist and Kristin Larsson, stride towards the finish line.
Nicolas Remires and Julian Dent of Team ENVOL celebrate their victory.
If you think it is tough to swim in 8 degree cold water, then wait until you need to get out of it!
Surf combined with slick rocks makes the transition to running problematic.
Welcome treats at the finish line.
Eventual winner Julian Dent leads his team mate Nicolas Remires out of the water.
It is all splash and fun!
Heavy winds created challenging swims across the Baltic Sea.
Canadian Paul Krochak shows perfect team work by helping his partner Tobias Höglin out of the water.
First start, first win - Nicolas Remires and Julian Dent celebrate at the finish line.
The German Sparkle Party floating with HUUB team back on land
Swimming in the choppy sea made it tough to stay close to the team mate.
A racer catches the last wave to find shelter on beach.
2015 Utö SwimRun
May 31 2015
1. Nicolas Remires (FRA) and Julian Dent (AUS) 3:56:48
2. Björn Englund (SWE) and Oscar Olsson (SWE) 4:02:45
3. Rasmus Regnstrand (SWE) and Niklas Vallenholm (SWE) 4:04:01
1. Caroline Holmqvist (SWE) and Kristin Larsson (SWE) 4:32:26
2. Annika Ericsson (SWE) and Maria Edstedt (SWE) 4:41:25
3. Charlotta Nilsson (SWE) and Bibben Nordblom (SWE) 4:56:57
1. Pär Kristoffersson (SWE) and Fanny Danckwardt-Lillieström (SWE) 4:45:29
2. Johan Johansson (SWE) and Anna Schlosser (SWE) 4:51:35
3. Sanna Duvebrant (FIN) and Philip Berglöf (SWE) 4:54:50
Images 1-11 by Nadja Odenhage, images 12-15 by Erik Westberg