Cool and Wet Action on Orcas Island

250 athletes from all over the United States faced the challenging Ödyssey SwimRun Orcas Island last weekend with Mother Nature adding rain and cool temps, but one could say that those are ideal SwimRun conditions. However for volunteers and fans on the course it isn't quite as much fun when it rains most of the day, but there was no complaining. And there certainly is no crying in SwimRun.

Orcas Island is off the coast of Bellingham, Washington and can be reached either via ferry from Anacortes or via a seaplane, and for those folks not from the Pacific Northwest it is quite a stunning place. The Ödyssey Orcas Island race offers 2 race distances, and started recently to allow solo entrants on both courses. The long course run featured 21 miles of running, with 6,100 feet of elevation gain, and 3.5 miles of swimming split into 14 runs and 13 swims. And the long course race is one of four ÖtillÖ merit events in North America. The other 3 are Ödyssey SwimRun Casco Bay in Maine, SwimRun Lake James in North Carolina, and SwimRun NC, also in North Carolina.

The short course event on Oras Island still is plenty challenging too with 10.3 miles of running and 2 miles of swimming with 8 runs and 7 swims. Elevation gain here is still an impressive 2,100 feet.

Air temp was in the mid 50s, and water temps ranged from high 50s to the mid 60s.

But here now are amazing pics by Mark Simmons.

Water was everywhere, on the ground and steadily coming from above, but all athletes are wet anyhow and thus undeterred by the rain. Here Kawaika Tarayao and Blake Nuttall of team Envol / Baywatch push towards the next swim on the way to second place in the male division, and 3rd place overall.

The opening run had a bit of asphalt and space and went up and up right away and that allowed athletes to sort themselves. But typically in the SwimRun sport most athletes are pretty considerate in terms of letting other athletes go by if the section is tighter.

Gregory Dierksen and Bronwen Price Dierksen of team Boston Wet Sox about to get into the Cascade Bay for the first swim, and the Bay likely had the coldest water temp of the day, but the swim distance is reasonably short. Plus most athletes were pretty warm after that hilly first mile run.

The Dierksens came out of the cold Cascade Bay water alongside Marcus Barton and Lee Greene of team Swaggy Zaddys, in a battle for the top position in the race. The two teams know each other very well and although they compete in different divisions, the overall title matters a lot.

The cliff jump is at the end of the 4th run and each team handled the jump a bit different. Here Maxwell Long and Michael Pritchard of team Old & Older in pursuit of Jamie Turner and Herbert Krabel of We Are Team H already swimming away.

Most athletes had fun with this roughly 10 foot cliff jump, but there was also an option to get to to the water without jumping. Julien Ravinel and Frederick Kim of team French Fries and Kimchi jumped gracefully in on the way to 11th place overall. Meanwhile a solo division athlete below got ready to swim on.

Some of the water entrances and exits were quite challenging and required full focus. Marcus Barton and Lee Greene here pushed hard and were well ahead of the next male team and secure in 2nd place overall, but the Boston Wet Sox mixed team proved too strong on this day.

Steve Henn and Doug Roeder of the SFBay Running Otters were maybe ready to encounter some fairytale creatures in this lush green magical forest, but pushed on to finish 15th overall.

Heather Nelson raced the long course solo, and was the top female athlete in that division. Nelson mostly takes part in Ninja events these days and seemingly the whole family is gifted in that regard, but that has not stopped her from seeking out other challenges.

The Dierksens in the end were almost 25 minutes up on the fastest male team and fully crushed the course record - making it look very easy.

John Knight was meant to race with Kelsey Withrow but she injured herself a couple days before the race and he thus raced solo. He ended up getting lost on course but still finished 2nd overall in the solo division. Here he just crossed the tiny island on Mountain Lake.

I raced this event with Jamie Turner and we worked great as a team. In the end we were 2nd in the mixed division, and 5th place overall. Notice how the paddles are being pushed out hard on this water exit, but the elastic does not come out because the ends have knots on the other side. This way the tightness of the wrist and finger loop can also be adjusted. The knot in the tether ensured proper length between this team.

Chris Douglas and Chipper Nicodemus are well known for their Löw Tyde Böyz SwimRun podcast, but they are very solid athletes too. They ended up as the 4th placed male team and 7th place overall.

The short course teams and solo athletes started later and wore light blue bibs and swim caps. Brooke Lindsley and Annie Molsberry of SwimRun Labs grabbed the women's title and were 2nd overall.

Josh Christopher from Houston, TX lands a helping hand to his team mate Amy Craft who now resides in Seattle, WA. The 2 athletes worked well together and in the end were the 3rd placed mixed team.

Meanwhile the long course teams were still out on the course and fully focused Matthew Davenport of Team RadKat with his wife and team mate Juli Davenport on the way to 5th place in the mixed long course division.

The sign said pets on leash, but most teams were tethered too. Fredrick Kim though is all smiles here, as were most athletes in this race.

Results Ödyssey SwimRun Orcas Island Long Course
September 26, 2021 - Orcas Island, WA

Mixed Division

1. Bronwen Price-Dierksen and Gregory Dierksen (Boston Wet Socks) 5:27:50
2. Herbert Krabel and Jamie Turner (We are team H) 6:24:51
3. Melissa Bartow and Andy Hewitt (California SwimRun) 6:31:26
4. Evan Kraus and Jenny Kraus (Team Sauerkraus) 6:41:53
5. Matthew Davenport and Juli Davenport (RadKat) 6:56:28

Male Division

1. Marcus Barton and Lee Greene (Swaggy Zaddys) 5:52:22
2. Kawika Tarayao and Blake Nuttall (Team Envol / Baywatch) 6:06:43
3. Maxwell Long and Michael Pritchard (Old & Older) 6:21:33
4. Chris Douglas and Chipper Nicodemus (Low Tyde Boyz) 6:33:02
5. Matt Wise and Mitchell Wise (Wise Bros) 6:35:43

Female Division

1. Julia Frey and Anne Heiner (Pangolins) 7:20:17
2. Abbie Russell and Katie Malone (Run Hard Put Away Wet) 7:25:26
3. Katie Higgins and Michelle Ohlson (Betty Squad) 7:59:25
4. Trista Mennen and Amy Bush (Team Adorkable) 8:07:50
5. Lindsay Myrick and Lydia Missal (Bellevue Brew Crew) 8:24:27


Complete results and results for other divisions right here