Team Orca Mix – Pär Kristoffersson and I – did once again finish this spectacular race in the Swedish archipelago – this time we ended up at 4th place. Despite facing some challenging complications towards the end we managed to improve our finishing time from the year before, crossing the finish line at Uto after 9 hours and 32 minutes after we took off in Sandhamn.
Rocky start followed by flow
We had decided to sprint the first kilometer until the first swim in order to get a good start in the water – but it wasn’t as tough as anticipated because the pace car held a reasonable pace for once (which was much appreciated). We entered the water smoothly, but faced a mayhem of ropes, paddles, fins and teams shortly after! The hunger of starting the race could be seen in each and every team’s effort to top the leading swim group. I lost Par almost immediately, and got stuck in the middle. Luckily we could find each other soon and went off to the side to get some free space and could move up to the front. It worked and we could finish the 1800-m first swim well. Once up, we started a high and good pace and continued without any problems over both Namdo and Runmaro, Par was pulling very strongly on the running, and we were taking turns pulling on the swimming.
Ice bath and clog running
After the two 8-k runs, the course features some long swimming sections with short trail running in between. I love it, because this means a lot of swimming (which is our team specialty). Arriving to the pig swim, it didn’t seem so piggish. The waves were not too bad, although a quite strong current required some extra attention to navigation. Although I pulled, I couldn’t manage to keep my heat up the whole way… Exiting, I was freezing. It is always a strange feeling trying to run after a cold swim, as you stumble a little bit attempting to feel the ground through your ice blocks of feet. However we carried on and continued to the next few swims and got even colder. I started feeling a pain in my knees around this time, but assumed they were just cold. This was the first time I almost longed for the long Orno run, I was ready to get warm!
The eternal run
Thinking of what happened at Orno, I had to eat up my thoughts of looking forward to this part (at least I got warm though). We started running after the short swim between the docks, in silence. I think we both noticed unconsciously that we were getting tired. Par was pulling through the first part of the gravel road. It was a good pace, although not as fast as the flat sections before. It was at this point my left knee started hurting really badly. I have never had any knee injuries before, and as I know it can be serious I got a little scared, but just kept going. I noticed Par was getting tired and hurting as well. Shortly after, I just couldn’t take it any more – and had a little mental breakdown, screaming and crying (Im sorry about that Par, its not really like me, and I think you got a bit surprised). Par gave me a much needed hug and reminded me that I had brought a pain killer in my suit. I took it and started feeling better shortly after. Par had gone up and started pulling. I noticed however that he was starting to limp – it was his foot injury that surfaced. We started walking in the uphills, and Par was hurting really bad. We managed to arrive to the Church and filled up on some energy and encouragement from our amazing support team on spot: Peter Lennkvist, Peter Lillieström Anne Lagerheim , Tomas and Harry. For me , this meant the world, and I started to get out of my mental low-hole. I started pulling shortly after the church, but we kept walking during the uphills. Par was fading away, and I started getting worried. We stopped to open his suit and cab down. Then we continued the rest of orno, which felt like forever. Finally we got to the swim and we stopped to put on our gear. The swim, as expected, was unbelievably amazing.
Breakdown and resurrection
Par got some energy from the swim and seemed okay, until the third swim after Orno – where he suddenly laid down on the rocks right by the swim section’s exit, seeming to faint. I though we would have to stop, but after a few seconds, he assembled himself and rose. And we continued. Slowly…. until somehow, the inner competition devil in Par surfaced. I noticed a pair of bright green swim caps (another mix team), entering a short swim section just as we exited, and enlightened Par about this. Hearing this, he suddenly mobilised forces and ran past me, and pulled with the rope stretched!
I think we must have levelled up our tempo to the double, and refinished the last 3 swims and the short run up to Uto Vardshus very strongly. It was an amazing finish to a tough race! I am so impressed by Pars ability to step up from being at his lowest point. It really shows a lot about what your body is capable of if your mind is able to tell it what to do, and what a strong team mate I have.
All in all – I am happy with my second Siwmrun World Championships. Of course, it is always a bit irritating to finish on 4th place, but Im still impressed we could improve our time from last year. I am also proud of all the other teams fighting with us – this is a performance just finishing. Congrats to all the 3 World Champions that crushed the course records in all categories, it has been an honour competing alongside all of you. It was stong competition in all categories this year – everybody leveled up and helped move this sport forward.