17 september 2011

ÖtillÖ 5 spet 2011

A little more than a week has just passed since ÖtillÖ 2011 ended. I'm been back on Sandhamn where the start of ÖtillÖ is and I already look forward to next year's contest. I would like to give you an insight into this race from the inside. I would try to get those who do not participate to understand why we love to stand there on the starting line, aware that we will just have to exhaust us to the maximum. How love and hate can switch from one second to the other for this fantastic race that runs through the world's most beautiful archipelago!

Me and Jonas, as you can tell, pretty happy about our 8th place at Utö
On the way out of the hotel we are greeted by a herd of people with black wet suits, orange bibs and red swim caps. For once, when we walked through the crowed with liked minded, we feel quite normal, which is unusual. Usual we meet of many strange looks when we're out training, sometimes by applause, but most often by thoughtful glances. One can really tell what
 they think; -what's that strange guys doing...
06.00 am at Sandhamn and the start. 200 racers are taken of for 9-14 hours of hard work.
Shortly before 6:00 the starting gun is raised, Magnus sits idle gas on the ATV that will show the first path and navigate all athletes to the water and first swim. The rest of the course is very well marked with colorful markers. BANG! The start goes and we set off in a high pace. As the third team we reach the water. The first swimming is the longest, just over 1.6 km long. Jonas and I'll take it slow and easy, we stop a couple of times, standing up on a few underwater rocks looking out over a boiling water, not only buy 200 swimmers, but also by angry water and mother nature, 10 m/s southeasterly wind which depresses the participants in the wrong direction. This means very strong head- or side winds depending on were you are along the course. The waves were the worst of 1-2 meters. The wind during the day would increase to gale (14.2 m /s). The sea was choppy and messy, and came from different directions. Jonas stopped me a couple hundred meters before the first island and asked me to look back to see the large Finnish ferry coming around the corner to Sandhamn. Despite our moderate first swimming that morning, we got up at around top 15 team on the first island, Vindalsö, which where followed buy a short but interesting run. As a ballerina thrives on the dance floor, I do the same thing in such terrain where you have to jump between slippery stones and rocks. I’m fast one that kind of terrain and love it. For Jonas it’s more of a survival test but he is still fast comparing to other teams. At the first checkpoint we reached, on Rummarö, we had a seventh place after around 2 hours, 9 minutes after the leading team.

At Nämdö, still going strong!

As mentioned earlier, running along these islands is world class running, hilly, rocky, trails, roads, varied, and above all that really beautiful. A short swim led us to the next island, where we where 3-4 teams including Jonas and me all together. Suddenly I heard Jonas screaming and I understand immediately why, because soil wasps attacking me quickly after. They slammed into our thin legs and quickly we have a bunch of stings that burns on our legs. As proximity card pops up, the third longest swim of the day came up shortly after, our wasp stings cool and at first we enjoy the water. When we reach land I walk up joke spirit with Jonas - How many jellyfish did you get all together, I had 738. This to block out my pain, as I quietly whispered to Jonas while we pass by some race staff. Jonas, my left shoulder was dislocated during the swimming... I do not know if he really heard what I said as we continue along the trail, with the same speed as before, into the woods of Nämdö. At Nämdö we still were top 10, 19 minutes after the leading team. Here is a big checkpoint; number 2 and I provided a tip to reduce the tempo to keep the whole way buy a friend who knows my way of racing. It would turn out to save my day later during the race. A short while later we reach the second longest swim, between Bunsö and Mörtö-Bunsö. The sea is really rough and cold, it’s hard to navigate when waves are high and we are so low. We didn’t see other teams in the water; we could just locate the boats that are a few feet away from the swimmers in the wild water. With a real axis and impending seizure we jumped in the water. A moment later, my legs cramping all over, stiff as frozen chicken legs, I wondered at times how I could continue to swim and dared not even think about what to do when we reach the shore. How was I going to walk up the slippery and steep cliffs with this pain full cramp? The pain was total, but somehow I managed to ignore this, believe above all that adrenaline floating through my body and the desire to finish helped me to block the pain so that it became bearable. Failure was not an option. Out of the water, I conclude that this was one of the toughest swimming along with the one last year when I swam to Grönskär as a preparation last year I done. I saw Jonas blue lips but did not want to say anything. Both cramping but I heard Jonas mantras only, keep moving! And that’s what so important in this race, especially if you like to finish, NEVER STOP MOVING! We stopped briefly in the woods, breathing heavily with painful cramp attacks, waiting for the muscle pain would be slightly more lenient so we could move forward. Easy running through the forest Jonas reach over for the camelback, hose to drink our homemade brew, Red Bull with sports drink and water. Fry spitting the liquid from his mouth as quickly as it arrived; he looked at me and asks me to taste it. I do the same thing, spitting and hawking, we just realize that I did not tighten the cap firmly enough and that we have just been drinking 75 cl brackish Baltic Sea waters. Of course we begin to feel what it would do to our bodies, abdominal pain, fever or what? But nothing happens and at Kymmendö we finally empty out and refilled our camelback with fresh water. The last mayor swim for Ornö we felt almost there, at Utö. But what wrong we were, 17 km of running can also take out the carbon on two hard boys. Only 1 km into our running on Ornö Jonas turned over to me asking for the first time how much longer it is left, an issue that would be repeated countless times next two hours. 
On Ornö just before the checkpoint at the church.

This far into the race you are tiered and the smallest thing could grow big, bigger and biggest! For the first time a starting irritation between us two grow up, we always laughed and enjoyed being together. Jonas thinks I'm too careless with water and drinking too much, not enough, so he accuses me of having broken the nozzle to our camelback, which makes me boil inside. But I'm keeping it for myself; I also see that he thinks the same about me. When we reach Ornö church shortcomings Jonas in a No, he knows that we are only halfway and have a few kilometers asphalt in front of us. It's hot, really hot and we are quickly and easily dehydrated. Jonas has started to dish out water periodically and I let him drink more. We left out of an old forest road that we both know leads down towards the water. That is so eagerly waited, three teams stand ready to jump in when we throw ourselves into the cool water. In the mind thinking and wondering, both Jonas and I what happens if you would pass out in the water, when our heads are spinning around, and we can start to feel a little seasick after all turbulent swimming. Some short, really bumpy swimming and hugely exciting racing later we step out of the water on Utö. The last 2.5 km we run in under 5 minutes paced/km, which makes us happy after 10.5 hours of physical work out. (That’s good) 10 hours 52 minutes and 54 seconds later we cross the finish line at Utö Inn with both of our goals crushed, into the top 10 and under 11 hours. We are happy with our 8th place beating a lot of full time professionals.

Internally, it's important that Team Utö with Jesper and Mats Andersson, two of the creators of this race are behind us. Their sponsor is Utö Inn with Anders Malm, the third cog and link to why this race exists, every year first monday in September. And a special Thanks to Mats Andersson and Michael Lemmel who made these guys thoughts and ideas into reality!

Of course, we saw Magnus Widell (our sponsors, Seglarhotellet on Sandhamn) won his bet with Anders Malm (sponsor Team Utö). About us, Jonas and I beating Team Utö again this year! Hope your evening with Anders (Anders will pay for Magnus all night) gets nice Magnus, we wait for our bonus! ;-)

Magnus is taken pictures when we, Team Seglarhotellet, are crossing the finish line at Utö!
To find more info about the race, and us see following links:








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