Hundreds of swimrun athletes travelled to some of the remotest islands on the British Isles to participate in the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Isles of Scilly race. The event, which offered three distances was hotly contested and tackled in excellent spirits with a 97% completion rate across the three races.
Crystal clear waters, swimming with bull seals, jaw dropping maritime life, fog, wind and glorious sunshine. The Isles of Scilly certainly delivered a stunning and varied second race in ÖTILLÖ’s World Series.
For Michael Lemmel, co-founder at ÖTILLÖ, this is ‘dreamworld’ where you enter a state of trance on the string of islands which make up the Isles of Scilly archipelago. Pairs racer Luke Firmin thought he was ‘hallucinating’ describing some of the underwater scenery ‘like something out of this world’.
Swimrun is nature’s sport, exemplified this weekend on the islands as athletes journeyed across uninhabited islands and through pristine and sensitive environments (more information on the route here).
A Weekend Of Two Parts
Participants and the event team had two fantastic days of racing with electric energy from the swimrun community and abundant support from the islanders.
On Saturday, the Experience and Sprint races who stood on the start line were to experience a varied and interesting day which had it all. From fog, wind, waves and sunshine. To see the difference between mild and harsh conditions was, according to Michael ‘a wonderful experience’ for those racers.
The World Series racers had to settle for calmer conditions on the Sunday, initially overcast which gave way to sunshine.
The crux of the course, the penultimate swim of 2.5km saw the top teams battling it out on an outgoing tide. The real magic however waited for those further down the field, who swam in on a slack low tide which brought them closer to the seafloor with extremely clear water, with bountiful sea-life and beautiful little jellyfish on display. Pairs racer, Luke reports ‘the underwater meadow was beautiful, flowers under the water was simply breathtaking’.
How Did Racers Find It?
For first placed mixed team of Sarah Richardson and Richard Stannard ‘It was tough and challenging, a real island-hopping adventure; swimming in clear blue waters, clambering over rocks and running along coastal paths. ÖTILLÖ Isles of Scilly is a superb swimrun course worthy of its World Series status, we cannot wait to go back!’
Further down the pack, Luke Firmin of the Bald Eagles found it ‘extremely tough both mentally and physically, both overwhelming and immensely satisfying at the same time.’ His parter Ben Compton echoes his teammates comments ‘It was incredible, breathtaking. I was worried we might not make the cutoffs or the big swims, especially the penultimate 2.5km swim from St Martins. But as soon as we got to Tresco we knew we’d make it’.
Fanny Kuhn, who crossed the line first female pair with Desirée Andersson remarked on the challenge of the swims which were ‘quite cold and along with tides, the water level varied significantly depending on when you get to a swim’. Fanny enjoyed the race for its beautiful views, soft trails and unique vegetation. All of which made for a ‘fantastic race’!
Immense Local Support
Swimrun when it first came to the islands was met initially with looks of bemusement and surprise ‘you lot are nuts!’. Since then the ÖTILLÖ race has firmly bedded in and the local support is a key part of the weekend’s ongoing success.
Michael highlighted his gratitude to the islanders ‘this is a people thing with wonderful positive energy from the local community, everyone contributed in some way, whether that be cheering in the streets or helping out with the race’. This depth of local support was clearly picked up by participants, Sarah Richardson finding ‘the islanders hugely supportive and uplifting’.
For Ben of the Bald Eagles ‘the locals were incredibly supportive of the competitors and there was raucous support around most of the running routes. His partner, Luke goes onto say that ‘I think the way ÖTILLÖ heavily promotes awareness of the pristine environment and arranges beach cleans is really appreciated here’.
Race Director‘s Highlights
This could be a number of things, but two things which stood out included the junior swimrun on Friday night which saw the local school organising a swimrun with 107 children taking part. This is almost half of the islands children and a testament to how the the Isles of Scilly race has truly embraced swimrun with open arms from bemused looks to leaving behind the heaviest density of young swimrunners, anywhere in the world!
The other highlight was seeing the enthusiasm and excitement from first-time swimrunners across all distances do so well, making all the effort and hard work from the event team, partners and volunteers worth it.
World Series Results
Overall race honours went to Max Andersson and Hugo Tormento completing the course in 4 hours and 9 minutes. Fanny Kuhn and Desirée Andersson were first women’s team (and third overall) in 4 hours and 56 minutes. Sarah Richardson and Richard Stannard took first in the mixed team (and 4th overall) in 5 hours and 7 minutes.
In the solo category, Chris Goodfellow took first place and Lindy-Lee Folscher the first female position.
Honours went to John Yelland and Derren Blewett crossing the line in 1 hour and 54 minutes. Jenny Slater and Grace Libre took first women’s team in 2 hours and 7 minutes and Christian Götz and Martina Bolváry taking top spot in the mixed pairs in 1 hour and 59 minutes.
Philip Axelsson took first place in the solos and the overall win in 1 hour and 49 minutes. Jossie Couch, first in the ladies solo in 2 hours and 6 minutes.
The experience race was won by Alison and Henry Stedeford in 1 hour and 2 minutes, Julian and Tristan Free were the first mens team home in 1 hour and 3 minutes and the first ladies team of Sophie Rowlands Julie Lau in 1 hour and 7 minutes.
Adrian James took first mens solo in 58 minutes and Georgina Wilkinson taking first ladies in 1 hour and 3 minutes.
For full race results visit the results page here.
The ÖTILLÖ World Series returns on the 9th July to Switzerland with ÖTILLÖ Engadin.