For my 5th OtillO World Series race I journeyed to Hvar, Croatia. What a beautiful place.
Unfortunately none of my UK race partners were able to make it to the Dalmatian coast so I was in touch with Fix from worldofswimrun.com about teaming up. We were all set but then he remembered it was his parents 60th wedding anniversary that weekend so he put me in touch with Bernhard from Austria. We had some brief Internet chats. We didn't really talk much about the race but we did establish that Bernhard supported Norwich City. Odd, I thought.
We met for the first time an hour before race briefing. This is generally not good practise but, rather than not take part at all, we both felt it was worth the risk, see what happens. That's the post-Brexit spirit!
There was talk on the island of serious concerns about the wind strength, indeed the wind was strong enough to cancel the ferry crossings on race day. Some strong teams decided to not even start the race, wow!
For the short time we were together we raced well, at the start of the 3rd swim we were 10 minutes behind the leaders. However around about 2km into the challenging 3km swim, I turned around to check on Bernhard but no-one was there. Absolutely no-one, except the carnage of the water.
I looked around, scanned for the tow-float, whilst being beaten up by the waves and the wind. I very quickly came to the conclusion that during these beatings our bungee rope had somehow failed and the only thing to do now was to finish the swim and hopefully meet up on the beach so head down I ploughed on. I know my ability in water so wasn't concerned to be alone, and Bernhard had the tow float so I figured a safety boat should see him if he got into difficulty.
Around about 5 minutes later a powerboat pulled up, I lifted my head and saw Bernhard on the boat. Sh*t. This meant our race was definitely over. I told them I was going to finish the swim. Between the wind, waves and different accents I don't think words were useful or apprehended but my actions were. Head down heading for the island.
Sighting was tough. I was heading for some sort of shipping beacon on a very small rocky island were a few teams had scrambled onto, looking like lost penguins fully exposed to the wind. I scrambled up onto the rocks to try and work out where the finish to this wild swim actually was. Hard to tell. I briefly chatted to a British female team and told them of my lost partner before heading off towards what I hoped would be the exit point.
I finished the swim and was now in the unusual position of being disqualified. So I stripped down my wetsuit and sat in the sun, and cheered on the swimmers that came in behind me. I knew what they had just been through. That swim was "memorable".
There were quite a few teams milling around this area, giving up due to early stages of hypothermia, illness and general broken-ness.
An hour or so later we were taken back to Hvar by boat, what a sorry looking crew we were.
I was keen to find Bernhard to work out what had actually happened. We were reunited and he showed me the bungee - it was fully in tact. One of the clips must have come undone. Got me wondering about the role of locking karabiners in swimrun.
So unfortunately I can't give a full report on the race as I didn't see much of the course. But I saw enough to know that I would return in 2018.
The starting field of athletes was very strong, the stats are an indication of the level of difficulty: