Thursday, 1 June 2017

Racereport 2017-04: ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö 2017

Hopefully most blogophiles that come across this infinitesimal fragment of the breathtaking interweb do not need a detailed description to the following lyrics. My brain played B-Real’s renowned hook-line on rewind while Felix and I got ready for the first big competition of the season.
"Time for some action...just" 
"Time, time for some, time for some action...just"
It was about time. Time for a severe SwimRun combat. Time to venture to the islet that started it all. Time to travel to the striking east of the Stockholm archipelago. Time to go to the island of Utö – the home of SwimRun.

For this years race I teamed up with homeboy Felix Schumann. Although his Triathlon and Xterra heydays are gone he caught the SwimRun bug at last years Costa Brava race, which he finished in 2nd place side-by-side with Tim Lange. (My race report…). Furthermore he was keen to lead me around Utö and see where it all started.

Our race homework was fairly brief and nearly inexistent, as we did not train together and did not check the course and the distances prior to the race. Fabian and I raced Utö in 2015 (Racereport) but the up-to-date course has changed and is a bit lengthier. However I did remember some portions. Most parts did hit me be surprise, though. Felix and I agreed to have no tactic and to go with the flow. We are far off beeing SwimRun pros I guess.

We set out in a reasonable pace and hit the first swim section after a 2,6 kilometres run in the Top 5. Way to fast for my liking. So we decelerated a little bit and sailed the first techy trail sections and short swims in a well-ordered speed. No shocker - Felix lead all the swim section. Significant info: He did not use Paddles! It surely makes a change if one can swim properly. The first “clean” running segment was a long gravel road and we swiftly found a pleasant rhythm that allowed us to catch up on some other line-ups. It must have been a pretty pleasant pace I guess as Felix filched a hasty “B” as I nudged on.

Like Andre Hook explained in his short race summary, it can be very challenging to recall all the specifics of a competition. Both of us were focused and nearly all transitions went efficiently and smooth. We did not loose unnecessary time. It is no secret that Trail running on Utö is a blast and the technical running took both of our minds off, as we adored the versatile and exciting terrain. Time flew by and all of a sudden Tim and Diane jumped out of the bushes. They followed us all day and made sure there was no negative thinking. Thanks for the effort and thanks for making us grin surprisingly all over the course.

ÖtillÖ organisers Mats and Michael came up with the great idea of cutting down the unnatural sugar sources at the aid stations. As I use dry fruits in training it was a no-brainer for me to eat plenty of what was provided at the aid stations. Although I was pretty hyped by the style of food I must have eaten way too much. My belly started to cramp up and I started to feel sick just after 2,5 hours of racing. Instantly I felt that there wont be a major change until I empty my stomach. It did not take me too long. Four short but effective breaks and an apprehensive Henrik Kindgren (“Do you want me to call the ambulance”) later we were back in grinding mode.

Our careless pre-race preparation and consequent lack of course understanding let to quite some disbeliefs. We could smell the food and the cold beers. But no. As we thought we were on our way back to the finish line our ruthless followers Tim and Diane greeted us just another time. Firstly we thought that Tim’s statement: “Nice one guys. Just another 5-6 Kilometres of running and some swims…” was meant to be a gag. Unfortunately he did not lie. To get some energy back in our lazy bodies we took a gel. Well, I tried to take one. My stomach did not like that try. Still, we managed to catch another team and somehow made it through the last couple of swims. Undoubtedly I ran out of gas in the cold water.

We reached the finish line in 4:58:37 and agreed that this was a tactical nightmare. Despite sleep deprivation (both of us have young families) and the necessary preparation it surely was a fun day. The Utö course is a great course and caters all needs that create this special sport.

As “Sickla-Janne” took care of my beaten legs, Michaels announcement during the Ötillö slot assignment hit me be surprise. We got granted a slot for the World Championships in September. 2017 will be the fourth year in a row that our The German Sparkle Party enterprise will have the chance to venture from Sandhamn to Utö.
"Time for some action...just"
I received some requests regarding equipment. As there are no secrets you’ll find a gear list enclosed:

Wetsuit: HUUB – Amphibia 2 (Prototype): This should hit the stores pretty soon and is worth the wait. Incredibly bendy and durable.

Goggles: HUUB – Aphotic: For me the perfect SwimRun goggle. I dig the Photochromatic specs and the wide vision.

Socks: CEP – Short Socks: You cannot go wrong with this one. For SwimRun I wear the socks one size smaller as usual.

Shoes: Salomon - S/LAB XA Amphib: Salomons first SwimRun shoe is just good. Amazing traction and remarkable fit. A true racing shoe.

Paddles: Swimrunners Size L – You just need the power to paddle them through ;-)

Pullbuoy: HUUB – Big Buoy: Just the right amount of foam for my horrible technique and water position. While running I wear my pullbuoy on the back, though. This gives me more freedom while running technical trails.

Running on empty - Despite some lack of energy we’re having some fun. (Picture: Time Lange)
Spirits are high as Tim cheers us on. 
Tow the line – we swam nearly all swim sections towed together. In my opinion this is still the simplest way to match speed and efficiency as both team members benefit. 
OTILLO UTO - 2017 JakobEdholm_8104024.jpg
Tallholmen - the final stretch of the versatile 42,8 kilometer course . Some short transitions make sure that there is no boredom. (Picture: Jakob Edholm
OTILLO UTO - 2017 JakobEdholm0D5_3863.jpg
Anders Malm - Owner of the Utö Vardshus Hotel and member of the "Original Four" observes what happens to his bet.  (Picture: Jakob Edholm
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We exit the second swim section (350 meter) towards the Dive Tower. (Picture: Pierre Mangez
OTILLO UTO - 2017 PierreMangez_280517-120250-LR
Followed by fellow german Wolf Grohe we enter the water at the Båtshaket Restaurant. The wind creates a choppy 430 meter swim. I forgot to put on my swim cap. It did not take me too long to recognize this. (Picture: Pierre Mangez
OTILLO UTO - 2017 PierreMangez_280517-120305-LR
After a mere of two intense hours racing there is a bunch of fast guys entering the cold waters with Felix and myself (No 118) . German Team 119 Andre and Wolf ( and Team 145 Bad Boys Ticino are still close together.  (Picture: Pierre Mangez
OTILLO UTO - 2017 - PierreMangez_280517-151305-LR
47:15 Minutes after the first team, Pontus and George, we arrive at the finish line in Gruvbryggan. Just in time to refill with some proper beers and warm food.  (Picture: Pierre Mangez

Tune of the day: Miami Lenz - Miamix #1

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

INSTAssel: Hijack

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am

I hijacked Dan's @runwithmestockholm account for the week. Swing over and check out the daily damage!

Tune of the day: DJ Supreme - Tha Wildstyle

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Slowtwitch: In icy waters with the blueseventy Thermal Helix

I took the latest Thermal Range by blueseventy through the freezing waters and wrote about it for slowtwitch.

There is something magical about the open waters. Although indoor swimming pools allow reliable training throughout the seasons, the open waters transfer an irreplaceable and wholesome sensation to swimmers of all abilities. Since the 10 kilometer open water competition was included in the Olympic Games back in 2008 the sport is growing quickly. But the lonesome autonomy also has its environmental complications. Particularly throughout the northern hemisphere access to lakes and rivers is limited. Unkind water temperatures dictate the season and limit the pleasures of a no-flip-turn session severely.

blueseventy addressed this problem with the Thermal Helix. After feedback from many of their sponsored athletes who struggled with icy temperatures during the notorious Norseman or Escape from Alcatraz swim sections, they rearranged their current flagship to protect aquanauts from unkind temperatures that might end up in hypothermia.

The Thermal Helix wetsuit is the heart of a full thermal product assortment that contains socks, gloves, a particular goggle plus a neoprene cap. Each product is particularly designed to lengthen and improve swimming in cold open waters.

The Thermal Helix has a distinct orange fleece-fabric that can be found throughout the inside of the suit. The fast drying linen is a light mid-weight zirconium jersey that is exceptionally stretchy. Although the material feels remarkably snug and dense for a wetsuit that is intended for swimming, it does not compromise the swimmers movement and makes sure that the heat stays within the suit.

The Thermal Helix version is astoundingly stretchy. Distinctive chest and torso panels made of flexible 5mm Yamamoto Aerodome neoprene help to maintain an efficient body position in the water. Straight from the first try the suit felt super comfortable and equivalent to the thinner standard Helix.

Little details on the inside of the back zipper. The full internal orange zirconium material is clearly visible. It is a pretty comfortable material that essentially feels like wool on the skin. It helps to decrease water absorption and shields against heat loss. Moreover a diminutive hook assists to securely store your keys while training.

The 1mm slim neoprene used on the arms feels particularly good and, despite the added insolation they create an unspoiled feeling for the water and a great sense whilst gliding. The pictured aqua-sell cuffs made out of extra flexible silicon stops H2O from entering the suit without being too close fitting.

One-piece 1.5 neoprene sections throughout the shoulder parts permits full movement.

Another look at the cozy inside of the Thermal Helix.

Attention to detail can be witnessed throughout the suit. The blueseventy designers made sure that the stitching and location of the neoprene stickers are spotless.

A vital slice of the Thermal offering are the neoprene socks. Previously I had certain cruel incidents with neoprene socks, but the blueseventy Thermal ones sheltered the feet in a perfect manner. The Zirconium liner isolation and the actual length of the socks benefit the user.

A good feeling for the water is vital. Where as many swim gloves merely helped the isolation of the hand, the Thermal Swim Glove surprised with a great fit and a sensation for the water. The extra long cuff works perfect with the arms and makes sure that water does not enter the suit.

In addition to the insulation gear blueseventy bids the award winning Hydra-Vision goggle. The soft frame produces a pleasant and safe fit even while swimming in choppy waters. The highlight though are the polarized lenses that offer a remarkable eyesight that can be highly beneficial while swimming outdoors throughout all the seasons.

When asked about the development of the thermal collection, blueseventy brand and product manager Mike Orton said: “We analyzed what the dive and surf industries do for cold-water adventures and we pushed our manufacturing team to establish new ways to glue, stitch and tape."

The manufacturer states that the suit is fit to use till a lowest temperature of 48ºF or 8.5ºC. We tested the products throughout lake and longer swims in the Baltic Sea with temperatures as low as 44.24ºF or 6.8 ºC. At all times the suit helped to stay warm, even though we just wore swim shorts and no other additional clothing under the suit.

A suitable head shield is fundamental during chilly excursions. The Thermal Skull Cap is similar to a standard cap but with additional wool liner inside. Soft and flexible neoprene makes this cap easy to use. Even though there was no lube used in testing, chafing was not a problem.

Straight from the first use it did not feel different to swim with a suit that has additional insulation. Even though there is extra material included this does not affect the flexibility, fit and the buoyancy. Unquestionably it benefits to extend the desires of open water swimming and supports swimmers that have their struggles with frostier temperatures.

Undoubtedly it will take a bit longer until you want to stop your outdoor swimming session with the blueseventy Thermal range.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

INSTAssel: Fartlek

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am

Apparently “Fartlek” means "speed play" in Swedish. Running Coach Gösta Holmér established this training-form back in 1937 when the Swedish national team had a hard time beating Paavo Nurmi and his fellow Finns. This morning my body tried to decipher another meaning out of “Fartlek”. Notwithstanding the body sounds a great session with the lads around Norra Djurgården. (Pic: Dan Paech)

Monday, 8 May 2017

Racereport 2017-02: Strömmingsloppet Vaxholm

‘bout time to step on a start line. Although our move to Stockholm did not bother the training regime too much, the racing undertakings have been fairly rare lately. It has been a while since I ran a running competition. The Strömmingsloppet 10k round the stunning Vaxholm islet was a worthy justification to jump on a picturesque ferry ride across the skärgarden and visit the isle with the family. My friend and training buddy Dan was in full praise of the versatile course. And he was right.

Back on the track for a weekly workout with the dudes, I was keen to see what the limbs are up too. I knew that on the hilly and bendy course a fast time was out of reach. Nonetheless I was keen on a fast run to find out where I’m at. The first half of the race went OK but I misjudged the amount of little nasty ascents and the technical segments a fair bit. A lack of concentration caused a pleasant downhill crash and afterwards I was not up to jeopardies my bones even more on the stony trails. I hang on to finish in a solid 10th place.

Legs are OK but there is still a bit of work left until the first significant race in 3 weeks – Utö SwimRun.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Checked: Berghaus - Extrem 7000 Hoodie

Hailing from the weathered North East of England, Berghaus was founded back in 1966 by climbers and mountaineers Gordon Davison and Peter Lockey. At first the outdoor enthusiastic twosome imported all sorts of equipment to the local UK market. In 1972 the two set up their own brand to cater their specific needs. The german word for “mountain house” became the brand-name of choice. Since then Berghaus creates regular attention with an high-quality and progressive clothing range. I had the chance to trial their latest release, the Extrem 7000 Hoodie.
Polartec Power grid fleece is the fabric of choice. The grid design structure got created to reduce weight while increasing warmth and compressibility. It is a structure that increases wicking effectiveness and breathability by creating channels of targeted touch points that engross and diffuse moisture for faster disappearance. While fleece might seems to be a bit out of date to some, the Extrem 7000 shows why it still has it benefits. The lightweight material is well placed with two varying layers depending on where the body needs more isolation.  
A feature that sticks out is the incorporated balaclava that can be used as a scarf-like wind protection. During chilly and windy runs this was a great feature and something I have not seen with other jackets before. I ended up using the jacket for kayak, hiking and mountain bike adventures as well. 
The hood has an enjoyable tight fit. For me it worked well with or without a hat and the covering against wind and rain is great. As mentioned before, the integrated balaclava is pretty helpful but not in the way in case you do not need it. Once you zip the jacket up it sits neat and comfortable while it protects yourself against the weather.  
A spotless little feature that I treasure – a well positioned and seamed thumb sling. Berghaus completed another detail nicely that sometimes can create unpleasant chafing. Not with this one. 
Just a lovely detail shot of the front hand-warmer pocket!
An accurately sheltered skull - a suitable illustration how it looks when you fully zip up. While the head is covered you still have enough movement due to the light fabrics. While out on a bike ride I found additional shelter against the rough weather as the helmet fitted perfectly on top of the hoodie. 
Flipside – the elastic micro fleece material provides an accurate “Next to skin” - fit. 
Shimmer – two diverse thicknesses of fleece are used. The picture demonstrates the back of the jacket and the thin chunks that offer blameless breathability. 
The Extrem 7000 hoodie is part of the Berghaus’ “Extrem Range”. It certainly covers the demands of an proficient and practical midlayer.
Details – well-finished ergonomic sewing that supports the requirements of full athletic movements. The full-elastic seam guarantees that the jacket stays in place no matter how hard you move. 
Quickly I became an admirer of Berghaus’ latest Extrem 7000 Hoodie. The multipurpose insulation jacket is pretty much the best shaped midlayer I have ever used. Appropriate body fit and a smart and thought out use of materials make it fun to use and a trusty partner for the outdoors. 

Tune of the day: 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017