When the mountains are calling

175 teams from 25 different countries traveled to Switzerland to compete in the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin and tackle a beautiful and difficult course on what organizers called a near perfect day. The first ÖTILLÖ event outside of Sweden took place in the Engadin Valley in 2014 and this year marked the 5th anniversary. A day earlier 100 teams from 19 nations had experienced the Swimrun sport on the Engadin Swimrun Sprint course and it shows that the idea is to bring more people to this unique sport is working.

But the main event took place on Sunday and here are images courtesy of Pierre Mangez / ÖTILLÖ Engadin

The first swim of the day is high up on the mountain and this lake is very cold. But the teams first run up a few miles to that lake and thus they are plenty warm when they enter the water, and this swim is only 270 meters long.

Earlier that day Pontus Lindberg and Georg Bjälkemo looked very relaxed at the start, and they had opted to run uphill with their wetsuit tops pulled down. But you will notice most other teams around them had their tops up.

In the water we go for the swim in the 49 degree F water. And having done the race twice before I can say it really is not that bad.

Teams are spread out all over the mountain and this narrow goat path above the lake is technically very challenging. First you go up and up and then you have descend on a very tricky narrow trail. Good times by all.

The view from above shows a couple teams navigating through the tricky terrain of that second running section.

Slowtwitch forum member Oscar Olsson from Sweden partnered up with Aussie Adriel Young for this race and these two were at the front of the race most of the day. In the end they were the second male team and third overall.

Pontus Lindberg and George Bjälkemo with their Golden Bibs were marked men on the course, and they were challenged all day. They had already won 4 races in a row and winning this one would get them closer to the Golden Bib bonus money.

Most of the course is either up or down but athletes are rewarded with beautiful views and magnificent nature.

Starting with the 3rd run the race really spreads out. Swedes Johan Carlsson and Joakim Brunzell pictured here on the way to 11th place overall.

Fellow Swedes Helena Sivertsson and Ulrika Eriksson of Team Head Swimming in the end finished second in the female division, but it was close all day for the top 3 teams.

The water in these lakes looks so nice that often athletes drink from it while they are swimming. And that means less time needed at the aid stations.

Martin Flinta of Sweden and Helena Karaskova Erbenova of the Czech Republic put on quite a show and at times were in the lead overall. They had also won every race this year and are thus in possession of the mixed team Golden Bibs.

One could say this event offered home field advantage to Swiss Diane Sadik and her Swedish partner Desirée Andersson. But nothing is given in Swimrun.

Athletes tackle 8 swims and 9 runs in this event with a total of 5.9 km of swimming and 40.5 km of running.

Another section of the course where the mixed Thule team (Flinta & Erbenova) led the race overall.

Spectators cheer on Swedes Simon Börjeson and Jonatan Torshall Svensson who ended up in 8th place overall.

Swedes Kristin Larsson and Daniel Hansson are always dangerous but on this day they had to settle for second place in the mixed division.

All day long the top 3 female teams pushed each other to the limit.

But in the end Diane Sadik and Desirée Andersson earned the top podium spot in the female division and 17th overall.