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Fri 19th Aug 2022
© Jakob Edholm / ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes
ÖTILLÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes 2016
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Monday 31st October 2016

Tags  1000 Lakes OtillO  |  Ben Martin  |  OtillO  |  OTILLO  |  Rhian Martin  |  Swimrun

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ÖtillÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes - battling the elements in Germany

In August this year, husband and wife pairing Ben and Rhian Martin reported back for us on their race at the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin 2016 in Switzerland.

All set to race at the ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships, injury to Ben meant that they had to withdraw from the marquee race of the swimrun calendar. However, the inaugural ÖtillÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes in Germany on October 23rd gave them the opportunity to both extend their season and, perhaps, qualify for the 2017 World Championship in Sweden.

This is their report from an already challenging event which had extra difficulty added due to the cold conditions.

ÖtillÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes 2016, Germany

Our swimrun race season had to be extended a month. We’d had to pull out of the 2016 ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships due to injury. The inaugural 1,000 Lakes in German would be the perfect way to end our long racing season – especially if we could obtain qualification to the 2017 World Championships – by coming in the top three of mixed teams.

The 1,000 Lakes suited us – with 10km of lake swimming and only 33km of trail running, we felt we would be fast.

The race briefing from Mats and Michael (two of the original trio, who created ÖtillÖ (it means Island-to-Island) over a drunken bet in 2006), was its usual sobering affair. It was going to be cold. Very cold. The lakes were 9 degrees and we were swimming in 11 of them. The air temperature wasn’t warm either at 4-6 degrees.

Still, this is what we had prepared for; we had Zone3 Evolution swimrun wetsuits with their neoprene vests and tri-suits underneath. We also selected Head neoprene bandanas, to wear beneath our swim caps. These selections would turn out to be great decisions. We had Icebugs Anima3 shoes for the trail runs.

Ben and Rhian Martin

Race morning started at 0550, with our tailored Precision Hydration drinks, porridge, a banana, Cliff bar and coffee. We’d looked at the energy stations and had a nutrition strategy that suited us.

As the sun came up we started to get nervous. Just how cold was it going to be? Would Ben’s glute injury allow him to push all the way? Yet, as always, the start line was a friendly atmosphere. Before long, the local mayor was firing his start gun. Race time.

First up was a 4km run, then a 920m swim, with only a short second run to generate some warmth before the first big swim of the day, at 1.3km. We had practised our transitions, especially as we were roping together on the swim, so we approached each lake – googles and hand paddles on, move pull buoy. Attach rope. Go. This meant that we didn’t think about the approaching cold – until we were in the lake and no choice but to keep swimming.  

We gained a number of places on the 2nd swim, as teams struggled with the temperature and long distance. It wasn’t until after the race did we learn that some swimmers had to turn back to the shore, some were pulled from the water and some were pulled from the race at swim two finish. The conditions were having their effect – and the race organisers decided to shorten the overall swim distance – with a 1.5km swim cancelled all together.

Into the 3rd run, we were told we were 3rd mixed team. This was brilliant news. And the runs were exceptional. Mainly on sanded or paved trails through forests, with the Autumnal leaves a kaleidoscope of colours. Or that’s what they told us – we were just concentrating on keeping a fast pace, taking nutrition when needed and trying not to get lost. The field was now spread out, so we didn’t know where 2nd mixed were, nor how close the 4th mixed team was to us. Our strategy; keep the pace fast.

At about five hours we came out of the forest and saw a glorious sight – the finish! Just a 500m icy swim and a 300m run to go. Then we had done it – 3rd place was ours and we’d qualified for the 2017 World Championships. 15th overall from a field of 182.

Ben and Rhian Martin

It was a very special race. ÖtillÖ swimrun organises unique races in unique places, and they had certainly achieved this with the 1,000 Lakes. Mats and Michael commented that it was one of the toughest races they organised, which we agreed.

A huge thanks to all our support team, especially our family and friends who have meant we can do this. Also to The Drummond Clinic ( ) for getting Ben to the start line and to Laura and Cathy for looking after our bodies.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored us – we have raised over £3000 for SCOPE and The Hughes Sport Foundation - 

Bring on ÖtillÖ swimrun 2017.

Follow Ben and Rhian on Twitter via: @BenRhianOtillo

Ben and Rhian Martin

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