A hard SwimRun race on a magical island

The 2019 Ödyssey SwimRun Orcas Island was very challenging with 19+ miles of running and 7000 feet of elevation gain and 3+miles of swimming, but the stunning Northwestern landscape made it an amazing experience for all starters.

About 200 starters from all over the country tackled this race in 3 different events. A long course team race, a short course team event plus a solo racing offering. The air temps were in the low 60s and light rain and dense fog accompanied the athletes most of the morning, making it pretty much ideal SwimRun conditions. The water temperature was also in most bodies of water in the low 60s, but 3 of the 12 swims were a bit colder, and that included a short swim in the bay. All other swims were in lakes on the island. And while this sport is not a "triathlon without a bike" the sport surely attracts many triathletes. Trail runners and adventure racers however are also attracted to SwimRun.

The long course race is an ÖtillÖ merit event with points on the line for the ÖtillÖ SwimRun World Championships in Sweden, and that is also a badge of honor for the event and thus typically attracts strong competition.

Here now are great images from this event from Mark Simmons / Ödyssey SwimRun

Racing as a team is very rewarding and sometimes simply fun. This cliff jump in the race was not very high but proved to be entertaining. But there was an option to bypass this jump. Charles Kostyk and Justin Rempel however were all in.

With 19+ miles of running on magical trails it is important not to burn too many matches early on. Plus this course this pretty much either all up or down. Here in action on this trail are Katie Higgins and Michelle Ohlson of team TriPeeps.

Canadians Calvin Zaryski and Jason Britton led the race for a long time and they are both very experienced in this sport. They were considered the favorites, but very super calm and friendly leading up to the event. They however had booked an early ferry to return to the mainland, so they had to hustle during the race and could not hang out after.

Mike Lyle from Carlsbad, California teamed up with Kelsie Baker and they managed to take 2nd place in the mixed division and 9th place overall.

The coldest swim was in the bay and water temp there was likely around 49 degrees, but it was short and really not too bad. According to the organizers however a good reminder why the race is not going island to island and has all other swims in the lakes. Erik Zech who experienced his first SwimRun race here looked smooth and determined exiting the cold bay. Team mate Ritch Viola of Every Man Jack had already ascended the ramp.

The leading female team with Brooke Lindsley and Annie Molsberry seemed to have a good time with that swim. They ended up taking the female division title and a superb 7th place overall in 6:22:08.

Emily Caseria and Heather Nelson of Team Heather and Emily were also running like a well oiled machine and they grabbed second place in the female division. Their time of 6:32:53 was good enough for 11th place overall.

Although this event is considered to be more run heavy, there surely is plenty of swimming. The 12 swims add up to well over 3 miles.

The leading mixed team of Andrew Hewitt and Caroline Wolek in action during the cliff jump. They ended up winning the division in 6:16:50 and that meant 5th place overall. Andrew Hewitt is also the race director for California SwimRun and the new ÖtillÖ Catalina Island, and rumor has it that Caroline pushed Andrew fully to his limit.

There were a variety of ways to jump or get into the water here, but when you are at the front of the race your move is possibly forced. Jesse Moore and Keith Nobile jumped in the water right after Ritch Viola and Erik Zech, and this two teams ended up with the top 2 spots overall. 5:56:37 and the win for Team Jesse's Girls (Moore and Nobile) and 5:57:49 for team Drinks Well With Others (Viola and Zech)

Running through these woods was magical for most of the starters, but to locals this was well normal, but clearly still appreciated.

Olympic Gold winner Simon Whitfield was in action during the race with Lars Finanger but two of them just wanted to have fun. Whitfield had also competed here in 2018 and seems to have embraced this sport.

SwimRun NC race director Herbert Krabel raced the event with Jessie Koltz from Nevada and the two of them had only met the day before. Krabel's original partner is in the military and was called upon, and thus he had to find a new partner. The match seemed to work out well and they finished 4th in the mixed division and 15th overall in a time of 6:55:01.

There were plenty bridges to cross and most starters expected to encounter characters from either Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings anytime soon.

Jonathan Story and Timothy Ferguson traveled from North Carolina to take part in this race and they finished 4th place male and also 4th place overall in a time of 6:11:50. Their team name is "It be me me me and Timothy."

Jesse Moore and Keith Nobile entered the second last swim right next to Ritch Viola and Erik Zech. Viola and Zech with tether and Moore and Nobile without. Viola and Zech moved into the lead but a course error possibly cost them the win.

There is generally a feeling of joy no matter how hard the course is. Patrick Casey and Jessie McCarron of Team Vulpes Vulpes fully seemed to embrace this adventure.

2019 Ödyssey SwimRun Orcas Island
Orcas Island, WA / September 22, 2019
19+ miles of running / 3+ miles of swimming

Top finishing teams

Male teams

1. Jesse Moore and Keith Nobile (Jesse's Girls) 5:56:37
2. Ritch Viola and Erk Zech (Drinks well with others) 5:57:49
3. Calvin Zaryski and Jason Britton (Critical Speed Racing) 6:00:10

Female teams

1. Brooke Lindsley and Annie Molsberry (SwimRun Labs) 6:22:08
2. Emily Caseria and Heather Nelson (Heather and Emily) 6:32:53
3. Katie Godec and Kayla Kobelin (Taller Than You) 7:20:02

Mixed teams

1. Caroline Wolek and Andy Hewitt (California SwimRun) 6:16:50
2. Kelsie Baker and Mike Lyle (Lyle Fitness) 6:28:10
3. Robin Lyon and Dylan Kennedy ( The F***ening) 6:49:09