OtillO Uto 2022
This was almost a case of what happens on Uto, stays on Uto.
So what did happen? Why did so many DNF? Why was 2022 so hard?
It's standard for the water to be cold (think 8 to 10), you'd always warm up on the runs. However this year that didn't happen, several factors contributed to this:
The air temperature was around 11, the force 4 wind was from the North. Factoring in the wind chill on wet bodies created a "feels like" air temperature of around 5 or 6 degrees.
The new course had shorter and more technical (slower) run sections, this coupled with the unforgiving air temperature and persistent wind meant re-warming was nigh on impossible.
More of the swims on the new course were in the North too, I seem to remember the shallower water swims in the South of previous years being a tad warmer.
I was racing with friend Paul Martin, founder of North Endurance, he'd been hoping to try swimrun for a while. I'd told him "yeah the water's cold but you'll warm up on the runs, and look forward to the swims" this is how it usually is.
When I looked at the forecast on the Wednesday I noticed that the air temperature was set to be a lot lower than previous years. I checked the new course, in particular the final third that was all in the North. It was clear that we'd be in and out of the water a lot during this final third.
I started to question what to wear.
Paul lent my HEAD Aero, with sleeves, slightly big on him but OK. I had one more check of the forecast on Thursday night and decided to throw in my other HEAD Aero (short sleeves), with a couple of Orca sleeves, along with an ARK Vigg. This meant we had the option of some extra insulation.
Come race day Paul wore the Vigg under his Aero, I added the Orca sleeves to my Aero.
The first 3 hours we were moving well. It was into the 4th hour that we started to cool significantly. We became quieter, it dawned on us both that this was going to be a real challenge to finish.
I normally love the swims on Uto. In 2022 there were times when they were harrowing. The technical runs also became painfully slow, not helped by my trips.
The crux of the course was definitely the 6 swims and 7 runs in the North. Everything was relentlessly cold, the technical runs, the choppy swims.
We kept at it, steadily getting slower and colder.
When we reached the final aid station we noticed quite a few participants either dropped out or cut-off, standing around in dry robes looking cold and forlorn.
Taking a drink was difficult as we were both shivering. The marshal said 2 more swims, 3 runs. We had to move.
I can't credit Paul enough for taking this on as his first swimrun. I was definitely fading towards the end and he helped me to the finish.
After finishing we spent 30 minutes in the sauna. This was 100% necessary.
Although I had hoped Paul's first swimrun would be as much fun as previous years, what Uto 2022 did show was that when faced with adversity it is the team element that can carry you through.
In the end we were 18th male team, 34th overall.
It was another unforgettable experience in the Swedish archipelago, thanks to the OtillO team for pioneering the swimrun race format in such a wonderful place. I look forward to returning in June!