After enjoying Uto so much myself and Kate were hoping that are reserve place for Engadin was going to convert into an actual place… and it did.
We didn’t use hand paddles at Uto but with the longer swim sections at Engadin we decided we should. I also retired my old 1mm wetsuit as it’s holes were getting bigger and more numerous. I decided to customise an old Aquasphere Pursuit SL.
So we arrived in Silvaplana mid-way through the pasta party with 30 minutes until the race briefing. I had heard that last year the lakes had been colder than expected and lots of people were pulled out of the water in the early stages of hypothermia. It was a different story this year with blazing sunshine and warmer lakes. Race briefing done, time to set up camp.
Race day. It started with a testing, hot and slow uphill climb to 2400m before the most technical descent of the race. We weren’t on tow at this point and I was bursting at the seams to do some overtaking but Kate was being too polite/cautious to pass people, probably a sensible approach. We set up the tow at the start of the first swim. The fact we hadn’t done any training with the hand paddles became apparent. The paddles enhanced my stronger left-hand pull sending us off to the right, I then over-compensated which sent us far left. We eventually got out and I began to think “this is going to be a long day”.
We were quite near the back but started to get into a nice running rhythm. The next swim saw me take us far right again, so much so that Kate was shouting at me. At one point Kate thought I was dead. What had actually happened was my left hand paddle had come off and I had stopped to re-attach it underwater, I was surprised at how easily she thought I had died.
We caught up with another British couple who had come 5th in the mixed category last year. We briefly ran together whilst they told us what to expect ahead before they sped up and left us.
The energy stations were well provisioned and pretty pleasant with much of the food provided by winforce, there was also soup and sausage available, yes! I took on some sausage just before the start of the longest swim. I very slowly chewed it whilst swimming which was surprisingly relaxing – it was also a good way to take on some salt. By this time I had gotten used to the hand paddles and enjoyed the long swim, the cool water was like therapy for the body which is one of the things I love about swimrun.
We chugged along and found ourselves catching the British mixed team we had chatted to earlier. We entered the final swim just behind them and got out together. They set straight off for the finish whilst we decided to unzip wetsuits. At first I wondered if this was a mistake but we soon caught them and stepped up the pace to come in 8th in the mixed category and first British mixed team. Another great race.