Kustjagaren (Swimrun) – one down, two to go

So Saturday was the first of three big races in July. Around 1600 Friday I pack my car and head to Karlskrona with my Swimrun partner Fredrik and Peter. Its a short ride to Karlskrona. We arrive just before 1800, check into our room, and then make our way over to registration. We get our racing bibs with lucky nr 11 and then reset our timing chip before heading over to Nivå for a tasty burger.

At dinner we are joined by Christer and another Peter, as well as Jonas and his race partner Roger. Lots of fun talking strategy and goals for each team about the race the next day. After dinner Fredrik and I move over to Harry’s to meet up with Britt-Marie and Håkan who are also preparing for the same race.

Just before 21:00 we head over to Hemköp för some snacks and then head to our room to pack for the big day ahead.

Up 06:30 saturday morning, and down to breakfast at 0700 where we meet up with Peter and Peter.  Just after 0830 we drop off our bags in the car, and head to the pre-race meeting.  Nothing new, but we are told to start our timing chips out in the starting area. After the meeting everyone rushes out to the buses and we travel nearly 30km up to the start of the race in Torhamn. Fredrik and I manage to get on the bus that leaves first and when we get to the starting area we take our time getting ready for the 10:30 start. Lines for the porta-potties grow instantly. Teams running around looking for the station to start the timing chips, but most important, everyone enjoying themselves getting ready for a 3-6 hour journey back to the city.

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Less than 5 minutes before the start both Fredrik and I jump to the side of the starting area for one last piss.

10:30 the start!
1- 8100m  run
We go from standing still, to walking to jogging following those in front of us.  We think we found a team in front of us that we can follow, but shortly after getting behind them, they increase their speed. Meter after meter we can see the field moving away from us, and the number of teams behind us decreasing. By the time we reach the 2km mark we are last. This can be seen in the image from a video by a news team below. I am in front of the bike to the left and Fredrik to the right.

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For about 2km we lose some distance to all the teams in front of us, but around the 4th km or so, we both start to notice that the teams closest to us, are starting to get closer again. by the 5th km we are no longer last.  Our slow and steady strategy seems to be paying off. When we get to the start of the first swim, there are at least 5-6 teams behind us, and we feel great. Last year I think it took us 8-10 minutes to get our wetsuits up and drink water and sport drink.  This year we made it through the depot and into the water in just over 3 minutes. Running 8km in our wetsuits in roughly 53 minutes and starting the swim at 56 minutes. During the time we were in the depot we managed to pass a hand full of teams, that needed more time to prepare for the first swim, or recover from the first run.

2 -730 m swim
Not the best of weather conditions for swimming, but for two experienced swimmers, we held to the left of the field and moved our way up as we swam over to a little island. The waves were so high that I barely saw the flag marking the other side.  During the swim I really on ever saw Fredrik.  I was actually nervous that were not making up any ground to the other teams, until we climbed up and I could look back and see lots of people still in the water. To my suprise we meet Peter & Johan after the first swim.  We had roughly the same goal times for the finish, but thought it would take longer to catch them. But after comparing times after the race, it appears that Fredrik and I made up nearly 10 minutes during that first swim. I tell Fredrik, at least we are not last any more…

3- 600  m run
This was basically a walk up a hill and a jog down the back side.  We got passed by maybe 8-10 teams that were strong enough to run over the hill.  As we approach the next swim I pull my goggles up over my head and the claspe comes off and I panic.  Luckily I was able to find that little piece of plastic and fix my goggles without losing too much time.

4 – 480 m swim
The water on the second swim isn’t any better than the first. We can see teams being pushed to the right, so again we decided to swim to the left of the field. As we come up from the water, my friend Patrik takes this picture of us.  You can clearly see there are several teams behind us, and according to the timing system, we have moved up from nearly 250th to 136th.

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5 – 3600  m run
As we come up from the water I needed a few seconds to rest, and finish my gel.  It was my second gel of the day after nearly 90 minutes out on the course. As we start the run, Fredrik looks at his list of distances and we see this is a 3.6km run.  We manage to keep our race pace of around 7:00/km even as we get passed by a few teams. But since we are running a relative slow pace we are able to talk the entire time and before we knew it it was time to swim again. It was a pleasant suprise for us both since we knew there was only one long run left.  During this run we got passed by Peter & Johan as well as 22 other teams and as we go into the water here we are back up to 159th place.

6  – 300 m swim
A short but tough swim over. Compared to last years race, Fredrik and I are saving lots of time at each transition since we decided to keep our wetsuits on.  Last year we lost at least 2 minutes for each in and out of the water, pulling down our suits.  This year, we only to put on our caps, and pull up our goggles, and as we get into the water, adjust our paddles and pullbouy. Swimming passed teams that had just passed us on the run, gives us a mental boost. We manage to swim passed Peter & Johan for the last time.

7 – 2000  m run
This run felt shorter than 2km, a steep uphill climb and then a long down hill jog to the next swim.

8  – 900 m swim
The longest swim of the day and most likely the swim that determined our final placement for the race. During this swim I almost never saw the flag we were swimming to, I just kept Fredrik to my right and the group of trees behind the flag in front of me. During this swim we noticed lots of teams swimming side to side.  it was a combination of poor navigation, but also strong winds pushing teams to the right. But this swim took it toll on me. I needed more time as we got up to run before I could actually start running.  I even got the start of what I thought was going to be a nightmare cramp on my inner thigh, but it luckily went away as fast as it came.

9 – 1200  m run
a rolling jog through farms and houses

10  – 40 m swim
Tarzan swim across a “ditch”. the water was so brown, and the bottom all turned over because of the previous 100+ teams, we swam over without of goggles and our heads above the water.  No fun getting crappy water in your mouth, even if you don’t swallow it.

11 – 680  m run
one of the shortest runs of the day, still feeling good and with runs this short the number of teams passing us is reducing.

12  – 110 m swim
another short swim, but the angle of the swim, seemed to be hard for some.

13 – 880  m run
Another run through some farms and again not very many teams passing us.  By now the start field as spread out as it going to be.

14 –  275 m swim
We start this little swim in 124th place overall. After the swim I mentioned to Fredrik that I felt different during that swim, so that on the next swim we might have to take it easy.

15 – 1000  m run
I also do not remember this run, so it must have been fairly flat

16  – 640 m swim
Down to three swims left.  as we start to head into the water I get a mental boost of energy knowing that we have managed to keep our pace, keep running and we had less than third of the race to go.

17 – 3500  m run
This was the hardest run of the day.  a few long hills up and down. Unfortunately we had to walk up the hills.  I was nervous my back would call it quits, but we never stopped, just slowed down on the way up. During this run I joke with Fredrik, if teams do not pass us on this run, chances are they won’t pass us before the finished line.
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18  – 350 m swim
The swimming seemed easire here, some waves, but not so high that we could not navigate straight over.

19 – 2700  m run
Up and over again, but the last 1500m was realatively flat and again only a few teams manage to run passed us. I remember even one team joking about it with us over the previous 3-4 runs, and I commented that we’d see them again, since there was one more swimming.

20 –  550 m swim
The last swim of the day.  Here I bet 95% of the teams, were like thank god, but for Fredrik and I it was the last chance we had gain distance to all the teams behind us.

21 – 2000  m run
The final run! The first 1200 m or so is as flat as flat can be, but then the final 800 m or so, is upwards to the finish line. Roughly 10 teams pass us, but there is nothing we can do about it.  The other teams are running under 6min/km pace, and we har doing what we can to maintain 6:45/km.

Finish line! Yes we made it.

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Our final time 4:53:32 is roughly 12 minutes slower than last year.  Considering I am 20kg heavier this year compared to last, and Fredrik and I only managed to train swimrun twice before the race, I am really happy with our day and results.

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Now I have 5 days to recover before my second race of July, 70.3 Ironman in Jönköping, starts on Sunday. I just hope my rub burn has healed before then.

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