It took a rather insane (and sadistic) Swedish mind to come up with OtillO or “Island to Island”. The race takes place in the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden in September every year, where teams of two race together, literally from…island to island. Swimming? Running? You think you could do that, huh??? The participants have a total of 75kms to cover – 65kms running and 10kms swimming…Wait, it’s on a single day! Most people are here to finish the race but if you have a competitor spirit and wish to jump in the fight, be prepared: you would be competing against teams from the most fierce military personnel on the planet like the US Navy Seals or special German force operators for example!
The Outdoor Journal brings exclusive interviews of last year’s Male Category winners Lennart ‘Lelle’ Moberg and first-timer Magnus Olander of Team Ica Kvantum Tyresö, who clocked 9h 11′! The last participant finished in 14h 15’…
Q. Could you briefly tell me about yourself and how did you get into the world of endurance running?
A. We are both long distance triathlon athletes. Lelle is a former swimmer and I am from Team Sports. We are into endurance sports because we enjoy training a lot and being out in the nature.
Q. How did you hear about the OtillO and was 2012 your first race in this event?
A. We heard about it because we had friends who competed in it. Lelle did the race in 2011 also and for me, it was a first.
Q. How different was it to prepare for the competition and could you describe your preparation and routine?
A. We prepared through specific training, swimming and running with the gear that we used during the competition. We also trained in the archipelago of Stockholm to get the training similar to the race, with open water swimming in big waves and cold water, and running through tough terrains.
Q. CNN had ranked OtillO ‘the toughest endurance run’! Well, they say the same about Marathon des Sables (MDS) and some others. What do you have to say about the OtillO race and how different/tough is it really for participants?
A. We cannot compare it to any other race. It’s completely unique in the same way the Norseman extreme triathlon is to an ordinary Ironman competition. OtillO is tough because you have to be able to go on for a long time. The cold water and big waves in combination with the tough terrain makes it very diverse- heavily demanding for the athletes. One of the toughest things is to run in a wet suit. It gets extremely warm and you only take it off during the longest run leg.
Magnus to the left and Lelle on right
Q. Some plus points about the event and any places where the organisers need to improve?
A. On the plus side, the organisation with travelling and accomodation on the start and finish is a full package, the kind you never get in any other other competition. The race also has amazing food and aid stations. The staff and volunteers are very helpful to the competitors. There are boats on the swim which make you feel safe in the water. We can’t think of any improvements as of now.
Q. Any encounter with marine life (while swimming) or animals on the islands during the event?
A. Nothing special.
Q. Describe the diet/mental condition of an athlete who wishes to take part in the event and how does one adjust/make changes in the mid-stages of the event?
A. Our strategy with food during the race was to tell each other to drink two cups of sports drink because when you’re in a hurry, you tend to drink less than what your body needs. We had decided not to bring any bottles or camelbaks with energy and water. We didn’t want to carry too much. The strategy worked out well, with one exception for the long run on Ornö. The only food we ate during the race was a few bananas, because we know that our stomachs can handle it.
Q. Tell us about the route and the terrain for OtillO.
A. The route is a 65 km run on 19 islands and a 10 km swim between them. Since the course sometimes goes to the terrain without a path to follow, it’s hard to find the right way. When we were in the lead, we came up to a field of reed straws (they were over 2 meters high) and we did not know which way to go (no one else had been there before us). Then we decided to go straight through the reed straws. After 100 meters, we were finally through and on the right course, unbelievably! The terrain is very diverse and demanding, you have to run on rocks and trails with roots and also climb wet rocks.
Q. Were there any Asian participants or was it an all European participation?
A. Don’t know about Asian teams, but we hope there will be some soon. There were a few European teams. There have been teams from the US Navy Seals and the German armed forces.
Image © Malcolm Hanes & Jakob Edholm