We’ve got something completely new this week! For this week’s show, we’re doing a deep dive into Ötillö’s Engadin World Series race. We thought that since this was the first major race to happen after the shelter in place orders have lifted that it would be cool to test out a new format for race previews.
Welcome to episode twenty-four of the Low Tide Boyz, a Swimrun Podcast!
We’ve got something completely new this week! For this week’s show we’re doing a deep dive into Ötillö’s Engadin World Series race. We thought that since this was the first major race to happen after shelter in place orders have lifted that it would be cool to test out a new format for race previews.
We definitely couldn’t have done this without the help of Lauritz and Mats Skott from Ötillö, Nicolas Remirez of Envol Coaching, Helen Wikmar of Ark Sports and Daniel Hansson. If almost all of these names sound familiar is because with the exception of Daniel, Mats, Nicolas and Helen are previous guests on the podcast.
The idea for this format kept coming up in feedback from friends and listeners. Way back when we started the show we thought that it would be could do race previews and all the feedback kept convincing us that this would be fun content to produce and share. We spent three weeks getting everything together and we hope that you enjoy and are inspired to add Engadin to your Swimrun bucket list. (We definitely have it on ours!) So let’s dive in.
FIRST, WHERE IS ENGADIN?
Located in southeastern Switzerland and situated in a high alpine valley at an elevation of around 1800 meters or 5900 feet Engadin is a long high Alpine valley region in the eastern Swiss Alps located in the canton of Graubünden in most southeastern Switzerland with about 25,000 inhabitants. Engadin means “Valley of the Inn People” and the En (pronounced Inn) is the river that flows through the valley and ends in the Black Sea but not before passing through some amazing looking lakes. This region is known for skiing, hiking, trail running, water sports and since 2014—Swimrun.
Travel to Engadin is pretty straight forward. The closest major city is St. Moritz and it’s about 200km or 124 miles from Zurich and 175km or 109 miles from Milan. Flying, driving and railway are all ways to get to the race location. And uhm, what a location! Situated in a high alpine valley at an elevation of around 1700- 1800 meters or 5500-5900 feet the Swiss Alps look like a painting. Check out this race hype video by Ötillö to get a sense of the region and race course.
Ötillö describes this destination a fairy tale. It is the race that launched the international swimrun movement in 2014 as the first Ötillö race ever outside of Sweden. “A unique race in a unique place, hosted in the fantastic Engadin Valley in Switzerland.”
We sat down with Mats Skott who chose the location and designed the course for his take on all things Engadin.
Up until the Engadin race in 2014 Ötillö (which means island to island) was only taking place in the Stockholm Archipelago and they wanted to show that swimrun could be done anywhere where there is water to swim in and trails/roads to run on. He said that the beauty of the region and the challenge of mountains serve to highlight both that Swimrun is a versatile sport and that it can be truly international. It is now one of his favorite races to produce year after year.
Key features of the course?
Mats took into account the natural beauty of the region and used the valley and mountains surrounding the valley for great swimming and a lot of climbing on the run legs. Athletes traverse three lakes as they start in Maloja and make their way towards the finish in Silvaplana.
Important info for swim runners considering racing Engadin?
It’s important for folks to know that the race is in the mountains and as such, athletes need to prepared for sudden changes in weather and account for cold water temps. Having the right equipment and being properly trained is key to have a great experience. Athletes also need to recon with the elevation of the race and the technical/steep climbs and descents on the run legs. Training technical downhill running is key aspect to train for this event.
Ötillö Race FACTS (World Series Distance)
Total race distance: 45.4 km (28.2 miles)
Trail-running: 39.6 km (24.6 miles)
Run sections: 9
Swimming: 5,800 m (6,343 y)
Swim sections: 8 (12.8% Swimming)
Longest swim: 1,400 m (1530 y)
Longest run: 8.5 km (5.3 Miles)
Total elevation: 1,499 m (4918 feet)
The World Series race starts near the town of Maloja and ends in the town of Silvaplana. (The hub for all pre-race activities including packet pickup, course briefings, etc.)
Sprint and experience distance events take place in Silvaplana the day before the World Series distance event.
Average race times:
Based on 2019 results, the winning team finished in 5:27:29 (Team Simployer.) Daniel Hansson and Helen Wilkmar who we interview later in the show each finished second in 2019 with their teams ARK Swimrun for Daniel and ARKsouls for Helen. The last team finished in 9:21:31 in 2019. 5 teams missed cutoff times at aid stations. 13 teams did not finish.
Fun fact: 29 countries were represented at the 2019 event.
Weather on Race Day
In the middle/end of July, it is usually summer in the Engadin Valley with daytime temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). The elevation of the course is around 1700-1800 meters (5,500-5875 ft) and this means that there could even be snowfall. Water temperatures will be between 10-14 degrees Celsius (50-57 degrees Fahrenheit) depending on where you are along the course.
Ötillö recommends making sure that teams dress accordingly and consider wearing something under your wetsuit if you tend to get cold on the long swims. Use a Neoprene cap if you are not used to cold water.
Ötillö’s describes the course as “challenging and beautiful. The varied course, the altitude and the very strong group of participants will challenge everyone to put in their best performances.”
“The start is in Maloja, at the top of the valley and finish is by the lake in Silvaplana. The course passes Sils and Silvaplana along the way. The running sections are on dirt roads, single tracks, rocks and with some challenging steep sections to climb. The uphills are rewarded by amazing views. This is tough.”
We chatted with Daniel Hansson who has raced the event four times for his tips on the course. He tries to arrive early to Engadin to start acclimating to the elevation and taking it easy when he arrives with some light hikes and easy swims. He also keeps a closer eye on his effort on race day to make sure that he’s keeping his heart rate from exploding to be able to race well. He encourages everyone to take the time to enjoy the beauty of the region.
World Series Course Leg Breakdown
Leg 1: Maloja to Lej Cavloc 3.2k run (1.9 miles) (110m or 360ft of climbing)
Leg 2: Lej Cavloc 300m swim (328 yards)
Leg 3: Leg Cavloc to Sils Lake Malija 7.6k run (4.7 miles) (330m or 1082 ft of climbing in this section narrow single track technical section)
Leg 4: Maloja 500m swim (546 yards)
Leg 5: Camping to Isola 6.5k run (4 miles) (210m or 689ft of climbing) (uphill all the time)
Leg 6: Isola to Chaste Point 900m swim (984 yards)
Leg 7: Chaste Point-Chaste Second Swim 600m run (.4 miles)
Leg 8: Chaste 2nd Swim 600m swim (656 yards)
Leg 9: Chaste to Lej Silvaplana 6.3k run (3.9 miles) (150m or 492ft of climbing)
Leg 10: Lej Silvaplana 600m swim (656 yards)
Leg 11: Lej Silvaplana loop 3.2k run (2 miles) (210m or 689ft of climbing)
Leg 12: Lej Silvaplana 2 800m swim (875 yards)
Leg 13: Lej Silvaplana to Silvaplana 1.9k run (1.2 miles)
Leg 14: Lej Champfer 1400m swim (1530 yards)
Leg 15: Lej Champfer Loop 8.5k run (5.3 miles) (375m or 1230ft of climbing) (Lots of switchbacks in this leg on the climb up and a gravel fire road on the way down)
Leg 16: Lej Champfer 2 700m swim (765 yards)
Leg 17: Shore to finish line Silvaplana 2k run (1.3 miles)
We were lucky to be able to get Nicolas of Envol Coaching to give us a course breakdown and mini-race report. There are a lot of nuggets of wisdom here for anyone considering racing this event.
Engadin Race Reports
We asked Helen and Daniel to give us their respective race reports from 2019 to help everyone get a sense of what the course would be like on race day. More great nuggets of wisdom for everyone to stock away.
Training for the Engadin World Series Distance
We asked Nicolas for his advice on training for Engadin. He gave us a lot of tips about training for the elevation and the weather conditions. He recommends athletes try to train at least a few sessions in altitude to get a sense of what the race effort could look like. He recommends long hill repeat training sessions and swim straight after running downhills, if possible.
A key weekly session that he asks all of his coaching athletes that are racing Engadin to do every week leading up to the race is pretty intense: a three-hour workout with 30 minutes of steep hill repeats (last downhill really fast) followed by a 20 minute swim at race pace, then 25 minutes of hill repeats followed by a 15 minute swim at race pace, then 20 minutes of hill repeats followed by a 10 minute swim at race pace, then 30 minutes of hill repeats followed by a 15 minute swim at race pace and finally 15 minutes of hill repeats.
The other key weekly session is to find the steepest hill in your area and do hill repeats for one hour non-stop.
So with that, we hope that everyone found some value in this race preview. Again, we could not have produced this show without all the help that we got from Lauritz and Mats Skott from Ötillö, Nicolas Remirez of Envol Coaching, Helen Wikmar of Ark Sports and Daniel Hansson. We were truly humbled that so many people were willing to give us some of their time to help make this show great and we hope that you find value in listening to it and, ultimately, that you are inspired to add this race to your bucket list.
We’d love to hear your feedback so let us know what you think!
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