The winning men's team went under 8 hours, the victorious mixed team surprised themselves with a new record and the top women's team completely destroyed the previous best time on this tough 75km course, that features 65km of difficult running and 10k of cold and choppy water swimming, spread out over 26 islands.
119 teams from 20 different nations started out that unique adventure at 6am and early on the racing was pretty tight, but in general it is smarter to take it easier early on to have some power left at the end. From the start though Lelle Moberg and Daniel Hansson of Team Swedish Forces battled hard with defending champion Paul Krochak of Team HEAD Swimming and his new partner Oscar Olsson, but a few other teams including USA squad Valhalla Racing with Lars Finanger and David Thompson were also in the running. Actually 2 hours into the race the top 20 teams were still within 14 minutes of each other, but about another hour only 9 teams were within that time frame.
The pace up front stayed high and it was soon clear that the record of 8:16 may be in trouble. The announcer team that included retired World Champion Bjorn Englund was pretty confident that the record might be broken but was very doubtful that the magic sub-8 mark would be reached. Team Swedish Forces eventually pulled away from Team HEAD Swimming and gained more time especially during some of the more technical running sections, and came across the line in the fantastic time of 7:59:04.
“It’s like a dream. We have worked really hard for this all year and our biggest goal the last couple of years has been to finish under eight hours. Finally we did it! We had a plan and we stuck to it both tactically and mentally. It was tough mentally as we felt chased throughout the course after taking the lead. Paul and Oscar helped us to stay at a high pace... When we realised that we had a chance to manage the eight hour limit we forgot everything about cramps and fatigue and just went for it all the way to the finish line,” said Daniel Hansson of Team Swedish Forces.
In the mixed division, former long distance duathlon world champion Eva Nyström (SWE) had partnered up with Australian Adriel Young, who is a very accomplished long course triathlete. On paper they were very strong but they had no expectations going in, plus there was plenty of tough competition including but not limited to defending champion team Staffan Björklund and Marika Wagner of Apollo Sports/ HEAD Swimming. But the Thule Adventure Team of Young and Nyström had a great start and never really looked back.Björklund and Wagner chased hard but could not gain the time back they lost early on. When it was all set and done Young and Nyström beat the old course record by about 5 minutes in 8:49:58, but were surprised that they were done and placed so well.
"I just had a baby. We have never participated before, and we had no expectations. We thought we had an hour left when we got to Utö, we did not know where we were, so when we reached the finish line I just couldn't believe it,” said Nyström.
In the women's race Kristin Larsson and Annika Eriksson of Team Addnature completely destroyed the previous best time by almost an hour and finished this race in 9:32:03. They took the lead at the start and steadily pulled away with great team work and very smooth transitions.
“We pushed hard all the way. We just had great team work during the entire race taking advantage of each other’s strengths. When we heard the other women teams were getting closer we decided to go even harder,“ said Larsson.
ÖTILLÖ The Swimrun World Championship 2016
1. Lelle Moberg (SWE) / Daniel Hansson (SWE) Swedish Armed Forces 7:59:04
2. Paul Krochak (CAN) / Oscar Olsson (SWE) Team Head Swimming 8:07:57
3. Fredrik Axegård (SWE) / Alex Flores (SWE) Team Runfast 77 8:16:49
4. Nicolas Remires (FRA) / Pontus Lindberg (SWE) Envol powered by swimrunshop.com 8:22:18
5. Jonas Ekman (SWE) / Lars Ekman (SWE) Olanderswim.se 8:28:15
9. Fraser Cartmell (GBR) / Andrew Fargus (GBR) Caledonia 8:57:21
15. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) / Peter Oom (SWE) Old Tribaers 9:18:01
33. Lars Finanger (USA) / David Thompson (USA) Valhalla Racing 9:58:40
1. Eva Nyström (SWE) and Adriel Young (AUS), Thule Adventure Team 8:49:58
2. Staffan Björklund (SWE) / Marika Wagner (SWE) Apollo Sports/Head Swimming 9:09:52
3. Diane Sadik (SWE) / Rickard Berglund (SWE) Swimrunshop.com 9:20:14
4. Fanny Danckwardt-Lillieström (SWE) / Pär Kristoffersson (SWE) Team Orca 9:32:38
5. Fredrik Nilsson (SWE) / Stina Svensson (SWE) Hofet goes swimming 9:35:34
1. Kristin Larsson (SWE) / Annika Ericsson (SWE) Addnature 9:32:03
2. Ulrika Eriksson (SWE) / Helena Sivertsson (SWE) Team Icebug 9:44:41
3. Bibben Nordblom (SWE) / Maja Tesch (SWE) Team Head Swimming 9:48:01
4. Christine Andersen (SWE) / Johanna Wallensten (SWE) Team Ultraswimrun 10:33:47
5. Maria Söderström (FIN) / Henrika Malmström (FIN) Porkkala Swimrun-Finland 10:36:32
8. Sara Mc Larty (USA) / Misty Becerra (USA) Good 'Nuff 10:53:37