After racing in 2022, I (Jarrod) was not sure I wanted to race again, not because the race or the organization was not amazing, but because One Water and swim running 250km is something that is all encompassing. To be in shape for this race you have to be preparing specifically for it.
Kristen and I talked and found 2 amazing teammates who wanted to take on the challenge, Steve and Alyssa. Over the course of the past 6 months we had 3 training camps together, Steve capped out at 50km of swimming in a week and Alyssa was not far behind. We worked hard on teamwork and communication, knowing that the goal from a physical side is just to move forward consistently.
We worked hard on teamwork and communication, knowing that the goal from a physical side is just to move forward consistently.
Alyssa, Kristen and I came into the archipelago early and spent 3 days on Runmarö doing some swim/run practice on the islands. The water this year was much colder, 59-60 versus mid 60s last year. We had been watching the weather and expected this but knowing this and being in it are two different things. Colder water takes more energy for the body to stay warm and we knew this would be a big ask for the race.
Race morning we knew that our plan was to check out the maps and be smart, we were the last team to leave the start. We moved well and were right with all the midpack teams around CP 1.
At CP 1 we made a decision to do something different than all the other teams had done. The other 6 teams retraced their steps and ran back a slightly longer distance, we decided to do 2 swims and a shorter distance. We stayed inside some islands to block the wind and then had to battle some chop on the longer crossing. We really thought that we were doing well, we moved fast, but once we got to the ferry dock at the mainland to start our next long swim, we realized we were in 6th place and had lost a lot of time. Honestly, we were a bit surprised, but we prepared for the 3k swim to Blidö.
Things moved well on Blidö down to CP 2, seeing a few sights that we passed last year as well. Our only hiccup was once night started we learned the rules had changed and we had to swim blind in the night. Last year the boat was able to help with positioning to make sure we got to the right island. We were able to show where we wanted to go and the bearing and the boat would move us back if we went off course. This year the captains were instructed to not help at all, so Kristen had to sit on the front of the boat shining a light into the water holding a compass for both us and the boat captain to follow. Since we had no reference points and there was a bit of wind and current we ended up off course and luckily ended up on an island and after a few minutes figured out where we were. We probably lost 45 minutes or so with our course issues and trying to navigate in the pitch black with no reference points plus having to get back to where we wanted to go.
On the way to CP 3 we made our biggest mistake, around 3am, I got tired and handed off the maps to Alyssa and as we all know from adventure racing this never ends well…
Once at CP 2 we reset to get to CP 3, we were already starting to get cold from the swimming and put on our long thermal wetsuits, this helped with body temperature, but we definitely moved slower. On the way to CP 3 we made our biggest mistake, around 3am, I got tired and handed off the maps to Alyssa and as we all know from adventure racing this never ends well… we moved a bit too far south versus south west and ended up far south, off the current map that we had. It was beautiful and nice trails, the sun was rising, when we got to a point and realized something was off, there shouldn’t have been a cove and boat on our right. All of the sudden Kristen zipped down on the boat and said guys you are way off.
We started to make our way back to CP 3. Looking back, we probably lost 2 hours on this mistake. Once at CP 3, we got some food in and prepped for the day. Things moved great from this point on, we hit CP 4 and CP 5 without much issue. We knew we were close to the time cut of 8 hours but we also knew we were moving well.
At CP 6 all of us were a bit defeated, knowing the race would probably end early for us, but kept pushing on. Thomas and the OWR organization team were there to encourage us to dig deep, and we really appreciated their efforts to keep us moving strong. We navigated very well leading into the night on the first of 5 small islands, but we made a couple of nav errors towards the end of the bigger island, in fact the same errors we made last year. At that point, being awake for close to 40 hours, you are a bit slow to react and make decisions. We spent too much time over-thinking things instead of just going southwest, which would have got us where we wanted from the start.
We enjoyed the last bit of our race, knowing we were already over the time cutoff, and still had 2 swims and 2 islands to get to CP 7. At the end of the island we met Kristen and as a team decided to retire from the race officially there.
Our team learned a lot and we made some new friendships. We are very disappointed we did not make it to Landsort and the lighthouse, but the process and the journey are just as important. This was Steve’s longest race ever, Alyssa raced with a torn meniscus root, and Kristen and I came back to push our boundaries and discover what is possible.
/ Jarrod, Alyssa, Steve and Kristen in Team 3 – USA
Photo by Jimmy Hansen and Otto Norin