Big money, and an American on the podium at ÖtillÖ 1000 Lakes

A mixed team earned the Golden Bib after 6 consecutive wins, plus it was the first time for an American athlete to earn an ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Series race podium podium spot in that 42km race that featured 34km of running and 8km of swimming.

Martin Flinta (SWE) and Helena Karaskova Erbenova (CZE) of Team Thule Crew finished as the first mixed team, and as the fourth team overall in a time of 4:35:04 and thus earned the Golden Bib and the 33,000€ bonus prize for having won six races in a row starting in Hvar, Croatia in April. Many thought that it would be impossible for a team in any division to pull that off, but Flinta and Erbenova proved them wrong with a dominating performance north of Berlin, Germany. Claire Thibault (FRA) and Christophe Leray (FRA) of Team ChrisClaire BSC grabbed second place in 5:14:48, and Erik Molund (SWE) and Heli Molund (FIN) of Team Nöd o Lust finished third in 5:28:41.

The men's race was a very tight affair most of the day and among the 3 teams battling out was the Swedish Team ARKswimrun with current World Champions Fredrik Axegård and Alex Flores from Sweden. They however got a somewhat unexpected challenge by Norwegian Knut Baadshaug and American Carson Christen of team New Mohicans. The third team heavily in the mix was Nicolas Remires (FRA) and Luca Mazzurana (ITA) of Team Envol. Early on these 3 teams pulled away from the other competitors and then for a long time it appeared that the race might end up in the sprint. Team Envol however was dropped first and
with less than 3km to go the current World Champions found another gear and pulled away from the New Mohicans. At the end they won the race by just over a minute in 4:24:08. This was only the 2nd SwimRun race for Carson Christen - who was actually meant to be my team mate. But I did not race the long race because I am still recovering from a meniscus operation and that allowed Knut Baadshaug to take my space. And these 2 surely matched up well. As far as I know, no American has ever been on the podium, or even close to it at an ÖtillÖ World Series race, and that may also be true for a Norwegian.

The women's race was dominated by Helen Maalinn (EST) and Helena Sivertsson (SWE) of team Head Swimming/Garmin. They finished the race in 4:48:32 - 21 minutes ahead of Nina Ellmark (GER) and Lena Trillelv (SWE) of Team Head. Third place went to Anneli Wall (SWE) and Jenny Ramstedt (SWE) of Team Envol/ Head Swimming.

It was a beautiful day with almost perfect air temperatures as teams from all over the world started their day in Wesenberg and raced in a southern direction to the finish in the town of Rheinsberg. Air temps were between 14-16 degrees Celsius and the water temperatures were similar.

115 teams were still packed tightly together at 8:30am as they navigated through the town of Wesenberg. But the flat terrain made for some wicked pacing right away.

The teams soon were in a single file and the field started to spread out. Here Nicolas Remires and Luca Mazzurana lead Knut Baadshaug and Carson Christen towards the first swim.

The are is know as the Land of 1000 Lakes and there was plenty of swimming to be done.

The first swim usually really spreads the teams out.

The orange flags that show the end of a swim section are more of a welcome site for some than for others.

The ÖtillÖ 1000 Lakes course really offers a big variety of terrain and as you can see it is not completely flat either.

With just about 8km of swimming this race certainly favors stronger swimmers.

Helen Maalinn and Helena Sivertsson were fully in control of this race from the start and they showed no sign of weakness all day.

Nicolas Remires did not go into this race without a wetsuit, he was racing in a new sleeveless suit from Head, while many other athletes opted to race in full sleeves.

The woods looked almost magical and if athletes were not racing so hard they might have been looking for Lord of the Rings characters.

World Champions Fredrik Axegård and Alex Flores here led Knut Baadshaug and Carson Christen out of the water during one of the 10 swims.

The community is fully supportive and folks open up their gardens for the race to go through and allowed the organizers to set up aid stations there.

Nina Ellmark and Lena Trillelv on the way to second place in the female division.

It is not clear what Fredrik Axegård is looking at here but he was surely focused on the race.

The community big and small was fully in action all along the course.

And athletes were giving each other a hand, a very common thing not only within a Swimrun team, but also among teams.

These 2 seasoned Swedes also put on an impressive show. André Fält and Matthias Koch of team Primal Coaching finished the race in 4:50:32 and that meant 6th place among all male teams.

Knut Baadshaug and Carson Christen crossed the line 1:06 behind the World Champions.

But the biggest applause of the day went to Martin Flinta and Helena Erbenova who won the 6th ÖtillÖ race in the row to grab that 33,000 Euro bonus money.

All images copyright ÖtillÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes / Pierre Mangez