Penny Comins September 30, 2013 TWEET COMMENTS 4

Trail Running in a Wetsuit - Page 3

We were not hitting our time goals, though, and beginning to fade. Renata’s shoulders were feeling the strain of the paddles and the longer swims in icy waters. Luckily, running in our cut-off wetsuits and swim caps meant we warmed up quickly. As we scrambled over rock faces, ducked under branches, wove through reeds and swam in grey, silt-filled inlets, we wondered how we’d gotten into this crazy race.

The 1400-meter swim from MörtöKlobb to Kvinnoholmen loomed ominously in our minds, as the tough current in exposed waters had taken athletes up to an hour in the past. We got across the straight and out the other side relatively unscathed. At the 20-kilometer run on Orno, we took our wetsuits to our waist and ran hard to make the 6 p.m. cut-off at the south end of the island. Once we passed here, we could take as long as we needed to get the finish.

Photo © Jakob Edholm / ÖTILLÖ2013

Renata’s body wanted to shut down, but she fought hard to keep her legs moving and support her shoulders that ached with every jarring step. We’d covered 60 kilometers already, in and out of the water all day, and were reduced to a walk-run strategy on the rocky, slippery terrain. We chatted with other teams who also were just “moving forward,” then made the cut-off by 30 minutes and gave garbled interviews to the TV cameras at the timing zone.

Only 7100 meters and five islands lay between us and the finish. We totally underestimated the enormity of this last stretch. The sun was going down, and the current was ripping strongly around the smaller islands, which made our entries into and exits from the water especially challenging. We were slightly delirious and our bodies were beginning to swell. Renata shivered uncontrollably in the wind.

But each time we got out of the water, people cheered us on. Blueberry soup at the final feed station helped as we pushed on, not wanting to swim in the dark. We ran-walked as the orange sun slid toward the horizon.

As we got closer to Devil Hill, where the hotel and finish line sat on top, Renata got a new burst of energy. She bolted to the top and across the finish line.

Her first words: “Can I have a big beer for me and my mate?!”

Team PenRen crosses the finish line in triumph. Photo courtesy of the author.

2014 entries open in February (www.otillo.se).


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