The ÖtillÖ Engadin course was shortened but it is now even more spectacular and harder. A longer flat section towards the end was taken out and a new 385 meter elevation climb was added in its place. And it is now 40km of running and 6km of swimming, versus the 48km / 6km it was before.
155 teams of two from 27 different countries (including USA and Canada) started their long day in Maloja and then conquered various hard climbs and swims before ending up at the finish in Silvaplana.
The winning men's team of Jonas Ekman and Lars Ekman (Team Bröderna Bäver) took the lead early on and managed to hold off all pursuers. In the end they crossed the line in 5:16:10 as the new ÖtillÖ Engadin champions, and that time was 12:50 up on fellow Swedes Oscar Olsson and Martin Flinta of Team Löplabbet. The Spanish squad of Santi Pellejero Gacia and Francesc De Lanuza Gimeno (Team Head – VO2) rounded out the podium 5:02 behind Olsson and Flinta.
The mixed division was dominated by the overall 2016 ÖtillÖ Engadin champions Daniel Hansson and Christine Larsson (Team Addnature/Swedish Armed Forces). These World Champion Swedes captured 4th place overall this year in 5:37:17 and finished 17:11 up on the runner-up team of Michelle Nyström and Erik Fridolf (Team Garmin) who also are from Sweden. The Swiss/German team of Diane Sadik and Tim Lange (Team Swimrunshop.com) grabbed the final podium spot 6:02:42.
The defending women's team of Salli Carlfjord and Charlotte Ericsson (Team Öra) had a tough battle on hand this year with the Swedish/German team of Anna Sporrong and Nina Ellmark (Spiggen och Spättan) but prevailed in the end by just under 5 minutes to win in 6:27:16. The gap however from these two teams to the third team was very large. The third placed Swedes Malin Broström and Marie Dasler (Team Merrell) needed 7:01:14 to finish the course.
The horses (and cows) on the course were not interested in the wetsuit clad competitors running past them through the pastures and continued eating and relaxing.
A flat gravel road allowed the 155 teams of two to settle into a hopefully proper position in the field before tackling a 2.5km gravel road climb that took the athletes up 125 meters of elevation to the first swim at Lej Cavloc.
The first swim at LejCavloc is in 9 degree C (49 F) water but it is only 270 meters long. But everyone is so hot from running uphill that this cold lake is not really noticed. This is also the only time with so many teams in the water.
The mixed team of Daniel Hanssen and Kristin Larsson is already well up on the narrow hiking trail that goes 230 meters in elevation and is technically very challenging.
The defending female team Salli Carlfjord and Charlotte Ericsson also managed to get on the trail fast and without too many competitors around them.
Early on it was a little tight for the teams outside the top 50, but it did not take very long on this long narrow trail for the teams to spread out.
After a long and very technical descent with 355 meters in elevation gain, the athletes were rewarded with a refreshing cool swim.
There are very few sighting buoys in the water in Swimrun races. The lead team swimmer really has to pay attention and look out.
A great perspective from above with 2 male teams working with different swim strategies.
Oscar Olsson with partner Martin Flinta raced hard all day but in the end could not manage to catch the Ekman brothers. [and Olsson is much more handsome in real life than this picture]
Jonas Ekman and Lars Ekman took the lead early on and then slowly pulled away.
There were plenty of hills and mountains to climb and the views are fantastic.
The third placed team of Santi Pellejero Gacia and Francesc De Lanuza Gimeno ran very well but in the end had to settle for third place.
Swimming in the lakes in Engadin valley is spectacular and surely all the athletes who took part would agree.
A feed station at the end of a swim is a welcome sight and athletes stop at these stations as littering on course is grounds for disqualification.
The top female team of Salli Carlfjord and Charlotte Ericsson swam very well and apparent subscribes to the Staffan Björklund no goggles principle.
The runner-up team of Anna Sporrong and Nina Ellmark work together as team mates should. This was however only their second Swimrun race.
The terrain at ÖtillÖ Swimrun Engadin is sometimes super technical, in other areas somewhat smooth, and of course also right in between.
The German/Norwegian team of Fabian Eberhard and Knut Baadshaug Team German Sparkle Party) finished 4th male and 5th overall.
All images © Jakob Edholm / ÖtillÖ Engadin except images 3, 6 and 17. They are © Irina Kurmanaeva / ÖTILLÖ Engadin