Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Racereport 2016-05: SwimRun Costabrava

Currently it seems like SwimRun competitions are cracking scenes all over the place. Already last year was a pretty hectic year for this diverse endurance sport combination, 2016 looks like the year that shoots this sport more than one step into the future. Up until now my cherished GSP-troop and I competed in the maiden SwimRun races in the UK (2015 Breca Buttermere) & Switzerland (2014 Engadin).

Honestly, it feels special to be in the midst of a growing scene and surrounded by a sound bunch of driven pioneers in our country and across mainland Europe. SwimRun fetched back a lot of vanished inspiration, not only to for myself but also to both of my associates Fabian and Knut. The simple base of the sport is something that we started to adore straight away. I still reminisce the first time Fabian and I doubtfully hopped into the cold waters of the French Rivera to exam what it feels to swim with shoes, paddles and pullbuoy. Also the first strides in wet soaked shoes are still evident. Seeing our friends, that were comically entertained by our actions, enjoying their first experiences with the sport is a great sentiment. Once we realised how much fun it is to race as pair of twos there was no stopping. Thankfully we are infected by Sweden’s prime endurance export.

Our superb friends at Swimrunshop.com made a start at yet another initial race realism. Convoyed by former SwimRun criticisers and friends Felix and Tim, the Über-Hobbit and yours truly ventured down to Spain as the Costa Brava region was home to Spain’s first ever SwimRun contest. Knut engraved an superb description on our team website. If you do not check it out you have the chance to win a date with Lil Kim. You better think twice valued reader!

There is only one thing I would like to add to everything that has been written and stated about Spain’s maiden SwimRun meeting. Although the organisers of the SwimRun Costabrava did an excellent job scouting and arranging the scenic course, I feel the must to reassure all participants, organisers and Marshalls to stay true to the fundamental procedures this sport laid out. Of course, I’m German and I might be regulation driven but when it comes to competing and particularly team racing in the nature, some things need to be understood and adhered to.
Stay with your partner all the time.
SwimRun is a crew game! There is a simple intention for that. It is not that you won’t get bored or lonesome out there, it is pretty much down to security. Simple. While we were roaming along the shoreline we came past more than a few teams from the shorter competitions. Prior I laid out that for us a big share of the splendour lies inside the team characteristic. That’s why I get bothered when teams split up. It absolutely makes no sense and it does not provoke your companion if you run away from him and leave him in the dust. Stay within the definite radius and support your partner. At all times. From my own knowledge I can tell you that coming back from a low is harsh. Occasionally you might never ever come back out of this nasty dark neighbourhood. Racing SwimRun races with great partner I ALWAYS came back and I ALWAYS came back tougher and more focussed. So do not leave your partner back and stay by his side. At all times. Watch him and share as much positivity as possible. Honestly, it is so simple. During the Costabrava race we passed some bizarre teams that clearly did not know what the goal of this sport is. I encourage all organisers to eliminate crews like this straight away. Talking about soul and integrity of such a young sport, a clear announcement has to be made early on. Competitors must respect and recognise this basic rule.

While it is not really life threatening to leave your partner behind on the run, there is a major risk of leaving your partner behind in the H2O. This was an matter that happened through the race and wasn’t highlighted. As the sea was rough and even for experienced open water swimmers like us a test, some fellow contenders were shipwrecked. This is an issue I cannot understand and a rule that has been set up by the ÖtillÖ originators for a cause. Pure security for yourself and your companion. The logistics are challenging enough so the co-ordinators simply cannot offer a boat for every team at every swim section. This is where a team comes into place as its own personal safety boat. In my opinion this is essential and, again, needs to be executed with race-exclusion by the organisers straight away.

Please don’t get me wrong by being negative on an issue like this, but this theme has been discussed during the aftermath of the Costa Brava race by our group of friends and I feel the requirement to write it down. The Costa Brava competition was a great start for SwimRun in Spain and the vast majority of the line-ups that competed did a great job guarding themselves and their partner but there were some incidents that made me think. Better get it right early on.

Stay safe and watch your partner. At all times.

Appreciate SwimRun and enjoy your season!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

shoeporn: Dynafit - Feline Vertical Pro

It all began with Austrian ski icon Franz Klammer who won the 1973 Schladming world cup race wearing Dynafit boots. Klammer and fellow Austrian Leonhard Stock went on to win several world cups and Olympic medals with the help of Dynafit products. Straight from the start Dynafit had successful athletes racing and developing their products. Currently the company is a household name when it comes to light and high quality ski gear. Some would call them a reference when it comes to winter sports.

In 2010 the firm progressed towards the warmer season. They started to expand their product array and developed their first mountain running collection. I had the chance to review some of their products (MS Feline Superlight, Feline SL and the Pantera) along the way. With the latest Feline Vertical Pro they unquestionably raise a lot of eyebrows. And not only because of the distinctive look!

Difficult to oversee - the magenta and neon-green mixture is something distinctive and one-off. These shoes not only look reckless, though.

Don’t get perplexed! The right shoe appears with an upbeat and flashy magenta look although the left one sports a bright neon-green. I like the idea!

There are some fine-looking diminutive graphical highlight.

I appreciate the agile and direct attitude of this shoe. As stated earlier, the new-fangled Dynafit Feline Vertical Pro is a lightweight racing shoe with a hell lot of grip. This one needs some breakneck and challenging trails to be at its best.

Salomon effectively presented the Quick Lace technology to trail running. Dynafit uses a similar technique that works pretty well.

These glitzy mates come with a kind 4 mm drop to help an undeviating sense for the underground. I valued the “close to the ground” sensation a lot as I ran the shoe on and off-trail. In the last few weeks it turned out to be my absolute go-to shoe from 30 minute to 2-hour trail runs.

The super-light EVA midsole delivers great cushion without being to inflexible. Also a dainty but efficient carbon shield safes your feet from rocks and other trail endangerments.

Dynafit uses well know sole syndicate Vibram to deliver prodigious grip and characteristic material.

Really. I can not get enough of the loud design. I totally dig the look of the Feline Vertical Pro.

With the outsole scheme Dynafit did a great job. This one has some very well designed traction abilities. I totally dig the stylishness of this Vibram sole. They call it Megagrip for a reason.

Minimalist methodologies to the midsole and upper keep Dynafits newest trail running model sprightly and sensitive. Well made for steadfast and technical runs.

...and this time a shot that shoes the right shoe.

250 grams of pure grip and off-trail sickness.

Traction and eye satisfaction -  a fashionable and thrilling ride.

Dynafits symbol got changed in 2005 to a snow leopard. The leopard wholly represents the companies values: Speed, Lightness, Performance and Technology.

Click on the picture to watch a nice feature clip!

All pictures (c) Runssel

Saturday, 23 April 2016

In Pictures: SwimRun Costa Brava 2016

Knut and myself toured down to the northeastern part of Spain for the season opener, the initial SwimRun contest in Spain – SwimRun Costa Brava. We washed-up a decent 4th place finish on a warm and choppy day. Good fun. Thanks a lot to swimrunshop.com for making this possible. A detailed report will follow soon. Check this space…

Thursday, 14 April 2016

INSTAssel: Lunchtime Taper Vibes

@yourgsp lunchtime taper vibes. Last strokes before the crew heads down south for @swimrun_costabrava 🇪🇸 Follow Sunday's race via https://tracktherace.com/swim-run-costa-brava-2016/race | @huubdesign @swimrunshop #huub #swimrunners #swimrun #weswimrun #otillo #otillo16 #workouttime #training #wanderlust #outsideisfree #swim #swimming #costabravaswimrun
Ein von runssel (@runssel) gepostetes Foto am

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

INSTAssel: Vamos a la Playa!

Ein von runssel (@runssel) gepostetes Foto am

This looks like the splendor homecoming of sincerer temperatures over here. Some well-lit lunchtime strides with my pal Matthias before I head down to Girona’s Platja D’Aro for Spain’s maiden SwimRun this Sunday. I’ll be teaming up with the Über-Hobbit (@knutterbutters) to represent Team Swimrunshop.com (@swimrunshop) Vamos a la Playa! ✖️ #weswimrun #swimrun #swimruncostabrava #SRCB #girona @yourgsp @huubdesign #huub #otillo16 #otillo #otillotraining #wanderlust #outsideisfree

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Trailerparkcamp 2016 (Set 1)

Yet another year the French Riviera was on the schedule over the Easter breaks. It is a twelve-monthly routine amongst our cluster of friends to go down south to the magnificent Mediterranean coastline of south-eastern France.

Like every year we had loads of fun chatting, eating, laughing and, well, exercising a bit. It is great to have such a wholesome and positive collection around and do what we love. Already waiting for next years Trailerparkcamp!













Tune of the day: Tonbruket - Mano Sinistra

Friday, 8 April 2016

Shoeporn: Scarpa – Atom (Orange Fluo)

Scarpa is on the move. On the move to further increase and improve their quality alpinist inventions. Since years the Italians are a household name when it comes to high-quality off-road outdoor equipment. Particularly the footwear union is widely recognized and highly popular among hikers, mountaineers, alpinist or Skimo competitors.

The rapid chunk of mountain and off-road undertakings have been overlooked for some time. Last year’s running shoe collection (Already I reviewed the Minima) was an exciting starter to the lighter efforts of alpine travels. With the latest signing of well-known athlete, photographer and outdoor novelist Joe Grant, Scarpa puts the emphasis on the thriving trail-running market place. With a three-year contract in its pocket, Grant will be the face to their alpine shoe product line. It will be exciting to see how his contribution will assist the corporation to settle in this market slice.

The up-to-date product pool bids some pretty exciting lightweight and minimal goods. As I was checking the fresh assortment, the Atom caught my full attention. A refined and fast looking minimal piece of foot wear. Not only the flamboyant coloring forms an eye catching shoe, it is also the vigorous 4 mm drop that generates a shoe for quick and direct off-road undertakings.

In addition to the general clean and effective look, the Atom offers some thoughtful details that will appreciated during long and short outings. I ran the Atom through varieties of undergrounds and conditions. While I was training around the Cote d Azur lately, I had the chance to take the Atom from end to end of a variation of challenging undergrounds. Although damp and indulgent forest single-lanes were an laid-back mission, the shaky and technically difficult trails along the rocky coast line were a excessive playground for this model. I was astonished by the performance of the nifty grip the Vibram Genesis Lite outsole offers. The build-in rock platter bids a boundless protection without making the shoe too inflexible.

I still appreciate my excursions with the Atom as the shoe offers great traction that ends in a secure feeling during all sorts of punishing environments. Scarpa marks a move into the correct direction. It is going to be exciting to see what the Italians issue in the future. Their knowledge among mountain shoes is countless. How they will incorporate it into the light and fast style will be interesting to witness. Certainly the new-fangled Atom is a huge move that offers so much delight along the trails.

The low stack height of the Atom is created for steep and technical trails.

The brand name stands for Società Calzaturiera Asolana Riunita Pedemontana Anonima, which means Associated Shoe Manufacturing Company of the Asolo Mountain Area.

The Atom characters a fine and exiting refresh to Scarpa’s mountain running assortment.

Race ready - fused upper material to save weight and increase the comfort!

Hailing from the Montebelluna region in Italy, the company opened their US HQ in Boulder, CO in 2005.

249g of trail running madeness awaits.

The partner for wild outings is the Vibram Genesis Lite sole.

The midsole is made out of Compression Molded EVA and works quite well.

Not only the Orange Fluo painting makes this shoe stand out.

A pretty handy element - A little pocket on the tongue stores away the laces.
All pictures: Runssel

Tune of the day: Exiles beautiful Rework of Adiam's Runaway Feat. BLU

Saturday, 2 April 2016

On point with Staffan Björklund

The chronometer above the ÖtillÖ 2015 finish line on Utö Island stopped at 8:55:39. A new course record in the mixed category was in the books and Marika Wagner and her partner Staffan Björklund looked overwhelmed as they crushed the old race-best into pieces. Marika was the first female competitor to go sub-9 hours on that harsh course across the Stockholm archipelago.

Staffan and Marika had trained on the course for quite some time and also gave the overall competition a tough run for the podium - in the end they finished fifth overall.

I sat down with Staffan to chat about last year’s ÖtillÖ, their equipment and the sport of SwimRun in general.

Runssel: You live on the ÖtillÖ “start island” Sandhamn and are a professional adventure sport racer. The ÖtillÖ competition must be a particularly special for yourself as it’s just in front of your doorstep. When was the first time you heard about the race and how would you define the one-off magic of a race like this?

Staffan: This race has great meaning and importance to me. I read about ÖtillÖ when I saw the first ever race poster on the local notice board on Sandhamn. The informal notice spoke about a race, hosted in September by two legends of Adventure Racing, Mats (Skot) and Michael (Lemmel). Some years earlier I had applied for a place in their Adventure Racing Team, Human Link. So it was with great excitement and curiosity I read that the participants had to swim and run between the islands of Sandhamn and Utö in only one day. To me, it sounded like absolute craziness. A week or two later we were asked to help out with safety boats for the race, since I worked for the Guides of Sandhamn (Sandhamns Guiderna) and lived on the island. That was year number one for ÖtillÖ. Later on I ran the course and for a few years I worked with Mats and Michael taking down the ribbons after the race. We got to know each other and partnered up with other types of work during the year.
This race, in the heart of the Stockholm Archipelago, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have been traveling the world but have not seen a place more unique yet. It’s pretty cool to have one of the toughest one-day racecourses just around your doorstep.

Staffan somewhere in the Telluride Mountains. (Picture: Mike Thurk)
Runssel: As an adventure racer you have certain experience in team racing. Generally you race in a group of four. How come you raced with your crew colleague Marika Wagner?

Staffan: I got Marika into Adventure Racing. We first meet a few years back, at the price ceremony on Utö Island after ÖtillÖ 2013. As my season 2014 went on our sponsor, Apollo Sports asked if I were interested in racing ÖtillÖ 2015 for them. They wanted a victory and I was in. The year passed and they had a hard time finding a partner good enough to challenge the elite with me. As 2015 began and Marika came into our Adventure Racing Team, the fit was perfect. She had two SwimRun podiums and I had won Utö SwimRun and had finished top 5 in ÖtillÖ. We thought we had a good chance.

SwimRun Selfie while training and course marking for Höga Kusten SwimRun.
Runssel: SwimRun is still a very young sport. How do you prepare for an event like ÖtillÖ? I know you scouted the course for quite some time but besides that how would you shift your training towards a race like this?

Staffan: As the years have past, I have trained on the course but somewhere on the way I lost the count for how many times I have done it. Today I am probably the one person who ran the course the most times. To prepare for this race we are very meticulous. Training is a long-term and year around commitment. We started focused training for 2015 ÖtillÖ 10 weeks before the competition.

A relaxed smile after battling with Team Peak Performance. (Picture: Alexandre Socci)
Runssel: There is quite some discussion about the perfect gear for SwimRun races. Tell us about your equipment. What did you use for ÖtillÖ and why did you use it?

Staffan: For gear we’re extremely picky. We used 2 mm minimalistic wetsuits that where custom built for us. It was made for running, not for swimming. We used SwimWins as hand paddles, a performance paddle made with carbon and extra ordinary grip. NO swim goggles. Our buoyancy devices were also custom built by the founder of the sport, Jesper Mars. Also, if you pay close attention to the pictures from the start last year, I look bigger than normal. The reason is explainable. Under my suit I have a vest that I made by myself - I can store 2 L of water, 12 gels and 36 Saltsticks. Marika also custom sew her bib to fit her better.

Team Number 211 "Team Peak Performance powered by Apollo Sports" heading for the sprint prize at Solvik during ÖtillÖ 2015 (Picture: Ötillö - The Swimrun World Championship)
Runssel: SwimRun is growing steady and fast. What does the future hold for this sport?

Staffan: Who knows how big this sport can grow? It's up to us athletes and all race organizers. If we like it to move towards the Olympics or stay in this free spirit surrounding, I don’t know. I will do what I can to contribute to the sport. I like people to acknowledge this as a well-accepted sport where you can make a living on a professional level.

SwimRun Training with partner Marika Wagner. (Picture: Jonatan Fernström)
Runssel: What’s on the agenda for you and your team for the rest of the year? What goals are you chasing next year?

Staffan: My/our agenda for 2016 is as usually packed with training and races. We chase a lot of new achievements and have big dreams for this year. However, in the end of April we’ll release our season of 2016 via our Social Media channels.

Catch Staffan via his Facebook and Instagram accounts!