The Otillo Swimrun world championship, held every September in Sweden is the granddaddy of Swimrun events and was labelled by The Guardian UK as the toughest one day event in the world. The team at Otillo literally invented the sport of swimrun and this race is what turned it into one of the fastest growing endurance sports out there.
Race stats and logistics:
Trail running: 65km
Open water swimming: 10km
Islands to cross: 26
Amount of transitions: 50
Longest run: 19.7km
Longest swim 1.8km
Course record: 7 hours 58 minutes 06 seconds - Daniel Hansson and Jesper Svensson (SWE), Team Swedish Armed Forces.
Web - https://otilloswimrun.com/races/otillo/
Live race broadcast - https://www.facebook.com/otillorace/
What has it got to do with Rottnest Swimrun?
Rottnest Swimrun is a merit race for the Otillo World Championship, in fact, Rottnest Swimrun is the only merit race in the Southern Hemisphere.
This year, a Rottnest Swimrun supporter, competitor and friend, Paul Newsome, is taking it on! Angus asked Paul a few questions about his training and approach to the event.
Side note: Paul is a very strong athlete, having represented England as a Triathlete, won the Manhattan marathon swim in New York and swum the English Channel amongst a whole lot of other endurance sport achievements. As a passionate coach, Paul is the co-founder of Swim Smooth.
Angus (A): I know you well enough to know that you’re a meticulous planner, can you give us a brief insight into what a week looks like training wise for you at the moment
Paul (P): I try to plan as best as I can but inevitably sometimes “life” gets in the way :-) This is what I try to adhere to as closely as possible
MON - 10 x 400 “Red Mist” Endurance set in the pool, reducing down from 1:22 to 1:19/100 with 20s rest
MON - 60-75 mins ride on Zwift app (indoor) - usually a race of some description
TUE - 3-4km swim with plenty of pull and paddles work
TUE - 10-14km running with some intervals, i.e. 500-1000-1500-2000-1500-1000-500 at around 3:45/km pace
WED - 3-4km swim with a 2-2.5km main set of threshold work at ~1:16/100m
WED - 60-75 mins ride on Zwift app (indoor) - usually a race of some description
THU - SwimRun session totalling about 16-20km or roughly 2hrs, usually down in the Swan River
FRI - midday 1hr yoga session
SAT - rest day or a steadier run
SUN - a long run of 30+km at ~4:30/km pace
(A) Ok, that is a heavy program! So what is the longest run and longest swim you’ll do leading up to the race – when (how far out), where (terrain) and why?
(P) So far the longest run has been 30km and I’ve done a few of those, usually on hilly courses and preferably off-road. I will be doing 40km this weekend and a 50km trail run race the week after (early August, so about 5 weeks out).
I raced a 10km open water swim in early June and swam a continuous 8km swim last week with all my SwimRun gear on at 1:27/100m pace which I was pretty happy about. I’m happy that I’ve got the swim distance covered - it’s the mega miles on the run that scare me a bit, though I did get in 100km last week which is a new peak for me!
(A) Who is your partner for the Otillo and have you raced together before?
(P) Andy Blow. He’s the owner of Precision Hydration who sponsor the Otillo and provide the electrolytes for the race itself. We are old training buddies from the British Triathlon team circa 1997-2001 and are exactly the same height, build and weight. Andy’s running is better than mine and I’m slightly more experienced than him on the swim, especially on really long, cold swims, so we should make a good pair. We’ve done thousands of hours of training together but zero in the last 17 years!!!
(A) What about this race gets you out of bed in the morning - the good and the bad?
I’m enjoying the precision of pacing of my longer runs with my training partner here in Perth, Chris Knott. I make sure I warm up with a 20-30 min spin on Zwift first and then practice good hydration strategies when I’m out there. Running was my strength as a triathlete 20 years ago (having run 32:30 off the bike on numerous occasions in Olympic Distance events), but I haven’t run much at all in the last 15 years so getting back into the swing of it has been hard and I’ve had to be very careful with injuries etc.
(P) By your own admission, you had a really tough race at Rottnest Swimrun in 2017 then in 2018 crossed the line with a faster time looking like you wanted to do it all again straight away. It was as if you’d done a different course on a cooler day (in fact it was the same course and the conditions were considerably worse in 2018). What would you attribute this to?
(P) Simply preparation. We went into 2017 with a “just get around the course” attitude which lead to fairly minimal training prep for the 2017 event. However, we soon found ourselves at the front of the field given my swim strength and the fact that the start of the Rottnest race is very swim biased, so our “casual” outlook soon became dominated by a “we’re in the mix - let’s go for it!” attitude. I was pulling my partner Brad Hosking on the swim and then he was pulling me on the run. I fell and really damaged my knee with about 15km to go too, which didn’t help matters either. In 2018 it was the exact opposite as my partner (Brad Smith) is an exceptional swimmer, so I was getting a tow on all the swims and then being the stronger of the two of us on the run, was able to pace the run a lot better. But ultimately I was also just simply a lot fitter too in 2018 which helped a lot of course!
(A) Anything else you’d like to add about the Otillo?
(P) I’m approaching it with nervous apprehension and the full respect it deserves - wish me luck!
(A) From the team at Rottnest Swimrun we wish you the best of luck!
(P) Thanks - I’m going to need it!
Some of Pauls training videos and pics below: