High winds and rain made for very tough conditions for the 148 starting teams at the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championships but a course record was broken anyhow. 2016 was the first year where a team broke the magic 8 hour barrier in somewhat perfect conditions with a time of 7:59:04, but with very windy conditions no one expected any team to go that fast. A very tight battle up front in the men's division that lasted almost 70 kms made the race very fast. Swedes Daniel Hansson and Jesper Svensson prevailed at the end with a stunning time of 7:58:06, even though Hansson's original 2016 course record breaking partner Lelle Moberg was out with an injury. Jesper Svensson however filled in very nicely.
In the mixed division defending champions Adriel Young (AUS) and Eva Nyström (SWE) held off a late charge by the 2015 winning team of Staffan Björklund (SWE) and Marika Wagner (SWE) and grabbed the win in 9:01:31.
The female division was again dominated by Swedes Kristin Larsson and Annika Ericsson who captured the title in 10:03:32. Many teams who seemed to be likely challengers did not finish the race on this day, but the defending champions hung tough.
Four Swedish teams were racing neck in neck for a long time, led mostly by Oscar Olsson and Martin Flinta (Team Löplabbet). But the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin winning team of Jonas and Lars Ekman (Sailfish team Bröderna Bäver) were right with them and so were Daniel Hansson and Jesper Svensson (Team Swedish Armed Forces) and the Garmin team of Pontus Lindberg and George Bjälkemo. The most amazing thing about this front group was that they stayed on course record pace despite very ugly conditions. Water entries and exits were made especially tricky by the wet rocks and high winds during the swims created currents and choppy seas. But no one at the front seemed to be bothered. Lindberg and Bjälkemo were dropped first but stayed within reach of the podium and out of reach of the chasers. Among those chasers were 2 French squads, one of them best known for their Swimrun prowess, the other with David Hauss and Cederic Fleureton a highly anticipated triathlon entry. In the end these teams finished 6th and 7th respectively.
Hansson and Svensson managed to get a gap late and slowly pulled away. When they reached the final 3km run they had enough time in the bank to cruise to the finish, but now a record was looming and they had to step on the gas. They managed to beat the previous record by just under a minute and looked surprisingly fresh at the finish.
“Our tactic was to keep on eye on the lead, and pull away at the right moment at the end, and we managed to stick to our plan,” said Daniel Hansson. "We arrived at Utö and saw that it was possible to beat last year’s time, so we pushed all the way to the end."
Jonas and Lars Ekman managed to get away from Olsson and Flinta to grab the runner-up spot.
1. Daniel Hansson (SWE) and Jesper Svensson (SWE) / Team Swedish Armed Forces / 7:58:06 *
2. Jonas Ekman (SWE) and Lars Ekman (SWE) / Sailfish team Bröderna Bäver / 8:06:40
3. Oscar Olsson (SWE) and Martin Flinta (SWE) / Team Löplabbet / 08:07:40
7. David Hauss (FRA) and Cederic Fleureton (FRA) / TEAM FRANCE / 8:40:21
The defending champions led all day and initially were mostly challenged by the Swimrunshop.com team of Diane Sadik (SUI) and Rickard Berglund (SWE) and the Garmin team of Michelle Nyström (SWE) and Erik Fridolf (SWE) with the 2015 winning Apollo Sports team of Staffan Björklund and Marika Wagner dropping further and further back. At one point Björklund and Wagner were 16:51 behind, but in the second half of the race they found supreme speed and caught Sadik and Berglund for second place, with the Garmin team having dropped out already. They were now focused on chasing down the leading defending team, but Eva Nyström and Adriel Young hung tough and crossed the finish after a 9 hour day 38 seconds ahead of runner-ups Björklund and Wagner.
"I’ve never seen someone dig in so deep," said Adriel Young of his teammate [who apparently has not been able to run over the last four weeks due to injury] "We had no tactic. The tether is like an umbilical cord and talk to each other through it."
Top mixed teams
1. Eva Nyström (SWE) and Adriel Young (AUS) / Thule Crew/Trispot.se / 9:01:31
2. Marika Wagner (SWE) and Staffan Björklund (SWE) / Apollo Sports / Head Swimming / 9:02:09
3. Diane Sadik (SUI) and Rickard Berglund (SWE) / Swimrunshop.com / 9:08:52
Kristin Larsson (SWE) and Annika Ericsson (SWE) have won many races together including one event where took the overall win. In this event they were the clear favorites and were never really challenged. In the end they finished 40 minutes ahead of the next team.
Top female teams
1. Kristin Larsson (SWE) and Annika Ericsson (SWE) / Team Addnature/Campz / 10:03:32
2. Fanny Danckwardt (SWE) and Sarah Hansson (SWE) / Team Orca Women / 10:49:14
3. Camilla Landén (SWE) and Lina Byman (SWE) / Trispot’s Triathleter / 11:03:05
All images © Jakob Edholm / ÖTILLÖ 2017
* = New ÖTILLÖ men's division course record
Complete results can be found here: 2017 ÖTILLÖ results