Santa Catalina Island home to first USA based ÖtillÖ event

Today the Swedish crew behind the ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Series announced their first USA based World Series event and with Santa Catalina Island they may have hit a home run. Santa Catalina Island is 25 miles off the coast of Los Angeles and it is a stunning piece of nature. With SwimRun Lake James, Ödyssey SwimRun Casco Bay, Ödyssey SwimRun Orcas Island and SwimRun North Carolina having been awarded ÖtillÖ merit status, North American athletes were able to collect points in 4 different venues towards the 65km running and 10km swimming ÖtillÖ World Championships in Sweden. But 3 of those races are located on the East Coast and the 4th one is in the Pacific Northwest. Californians have been asking for a race closer to them and they now have one in their backyard. And a World Series events offers slightly more points than a merit race, but typically also brings out stiffer competition.

The beauty of the sport however is that each venue is typically unique not only in beauty but also in terms of challenge, and no race course is the same.

ÖtillÖ Santa Catalina Islands will be held the weekend of February 28 - March 1, 2020, and offer 3 unique distances. World Series (38.3km), Sprint (15km) and Experience (7km), and registration for these events will open in early July 2019. The World Series race is only for teams of 2, but both the Sprint and the Experience race can be done solo, or as a team.

"This race will be very special. It is a dream come true to finally be able to establish an ÖTILLÖ race in America. It is the right timing to be able to support the growth of Swimrun in the US. All because of a drunken bet," said Michael Lemmel, Race Director ÖTILLÖ & co-founder of Swimrun.

According to the press release there are two port towns on Catalina Island, Two Harbors with a population of 100, and 25 km southeast, the Mediterranean-style seaside village of Avalon, and there are accommodation options (boutique hotels to AirBnB) and dining for every taste and budget.

How would you get there? From Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) athletes and family would take ground transportation to the closest ferry terminal San Pedro, and from there get to Avalon. And traveling to SwimRun races is simple anyhow. All you need for the race fits easily into a carry-on. Start and finish for the events will be in Two Harbors, but race participants, families and spectators will stay in Avalon during the race weekend. There will be all-day, round-trip boat transportation between the two port towns, according to the press release.

The average island air temperature between January and April is around 16°C, and the water temperature should be a very refreshing 12 - 14°C.

In terms of equipment, wetsuits, whistles and a pressure bandage are typically part of the mandatory gear, but pull paddles, swim buoys and tethers are allowed but not required. But solo starters are sometimes mandated to carry a safety buoy.

The teams of two requirement is also about safety, and athletes on a team usually have to stay within 10 meters of each other. Thus also the matching bibs to make it clear to officials that team mates are indeed together.

Folks sometimes refer to SwimRun events as triathlons without a bike, but that is far from reality. And anyone who has experienced one of these races usually is hooked.

So sign up for one of these and see what it is about.

All images © Kurt Hoy / ÖtillÖ