Race Report Hvar Swimrun 2019; snapshots from the inside

Written by Fanny Kuhn

I’m looking back at a phenomenal Swimrun weekend in Hvar, Croatia. The adventure started already on Wednesday, when I arrived to see Mia greeting me with a big smile in Hvar Town harbour, for the start of our WILD Camp. We passed a few great days prepping a bunch of wonderful aspiring swimrun women for the Sprint race on Saturday. It was very inspiring and lots of fun. You’ll get all details in a camp report later. This is about the race – that happened on Sunday as usual. My Swimrun partner in crime, Desirée Andersson, arrived on Saturday afternoon, and we started to get ready for a stormy race with the Team Envol crew.

For this race report, I decided to invite you into my head. I’ve written it from inside, so you can see what’s going on in my brain during a race. There’s only a few snapshots, because I don’t want to bore you with pages and pages of my sometimes peculiar thoughts. Happy reading.

Before Start

It’s raining, it’s cold. But I’m not cold. How does this always happen.. no matter how much extra time we take, the last few minutes before getting into the start box always seem to be too short. Vaseline, on. Gels, three tucked in the sports bra and one in each leg. Rope, tucked into suit below ribs. I’ll probably never take it out… but better to bring it. I’m sure the day I don’t take it with me, we will actually need it for some reason. Head Aero suit, zipped up.

Look around, does anyone know if we’re doing the original or the adapted course? Great, Louise, Desirée’s sister, is checking for us. Adapted course it seems. But it doesn’t really matter, at least we will get a lot of running done earlier. We have to run fast on that back and forth stretch, if we are still first after that, we will be in a good place.

Cap, on. Goggles, on forehead. OR should I put them down? No, the swim is very soon. Let’s keep them there. Sip of Precision Hydration (PH), need to be hydrated. Shoot, I have to pee. Will have to wait. No time. Belt, tightened. Pullbuoy, on the back. Tying shoelaces. This always takes so long. But they have to be perfect, no time to stop for this for several hours. Tucking in the bow, the loose ends. There we go, now it’s perfect. Feels comfy. Paddles, strapped on to wrists. How’s Desirée doing? Great, she seems to be ready. Okay we need to go inside, already half the teams are there. Let’s go. Desirée’s parents say good luck, they’re dressed for rain, good thing they brought stuff! I feel bad for everyone on the sideline because weather is so bad… but for us it’s good. Maybe we don’t even have to take the suit off for the long run.

Going in, feeling ready and nervous. See Lollo, she’s always so happy. See Michael, greeting all the racers. Moving up, walking past the teams.  We need to be in front. Feel a bit bad walking past the crowd, but oh well, we’re faster than many and we have this golden bib on. Maybe that qualifies us to be in the front. Need to be next to the other ladies teams. Great, there’s Anna and Susie. We say good luck and hug. It feels a bit tough as we will probably compete side by side with them, they look strong. It will be exhausting, but also fun. Happy and prud to race with so many strong women. It will help the sport, the more ladies’ teams, the better. Say “suerte” and give a high five to my Catalan fellows.

Okay, deep breaths, let’s put as much oxygen in the blood as possible. The start will be a rush. Be ready. Looking at Desirée, she looks ready. It’s great to do this together, I feel she feels the same. We smile and do a high five. We hug, let’s do this.

First Swim and Run

One minute to start. Starting my watch, I’ll forget it later in the start moment. Jumping a bit, body feels good. Body feels ready to go. Can we just start NOW! Okay 10 seconds, taking stance. Where’s Desirée. She’s right behind. I’ll run first, she says, “I got you”. I wonder where is best to jump in the harbour… but you never know, let’s see when we get there and keep together. The start goes, we run. Quickly. It’s a bit slippery. This goes fast. There’s Mats, I think we can jump right after him. Perfect. Desirée? There, I’m jumping. I hope we can keep together. The water is nice, cool. Starting to swim, looking back for Desirée. Can’t see her. Is that her? No that must be Anna. Still can’t see her. Oh there, she is after, she must have had struggles somehow in the entry. Swimming calm. Better than rushing and losing her. Is it really Desirée? Yes, remember now, she has the blue Aero, and the white goggles. perfect, Let’s just go. I’ll find the best way to get out. There we go. On the rocks. Climbing up. Looking back. There she is, perfect. This went quite well! There’s Susie too, but waiting for Anna. Okay, now, let’s run, we have to get a head start.  Run the boardwalk. It’s not as slippery as I remember it. Great, we run in great pace. Legs feel good. We have to push this one a little bit. Many teams everywhere, bottleneck at the little stairs. Going okay, not so much wait. Only a few K to run, then a long swim. This is great, feeling great. It will be a good day.

Okay fast forwarding a bit, cause this i’ll take forever if you’re gonna hear my every thought!

Okay this is the second longest run, and we have to run back and forth. How annoying. Check km on clock, ok, will be 3.7 or slightly less. We need to push it. Pulse is high, but need to go fast. Feeling strong in the uphills. Great. Wow, already 3 K and there is the energy station! PH, 2 cups, like always. Bite an orange. That’s good for now, we need to go. Grab a pink safety buoy. I take the buoy, Desirée seems a little tired, hope she will have an okay day. I take the buoy, put it into my pull buoy band. Probably look like a maniac right now with the enormous new pull buoy behind and the pink buoy in front of me. Feel totally like barbapapa. I tell Desirée that. She doesn’t think its funny at all. Suddenly, she stops. What is happening?? She bends down. Oh no. She’s sick. She throws up. Omg. They’re gonna catch us. Oh well that’s life. Let’s make sure she is ok. Talking to Desirée. She feels nauseous. Not good. This will be a long day. Okay she is done. “You feel ok? Are you sure?”. She is good, she just starts running. Wow.. I guess we are good! She’s so cool and such a champ! Soon swim.

Photo: Catarina Axelsson

The Long Swim

Alright the big swim starts. Exciting. Michael is there, tells me there’s current, to hold left. Swimming out of the bay. The water is dark. Smells a bit funny. There’s a boat following us to the left. People screaming. Ah, that is totally Mia! Trying to wave with the paddle and smile a bit, probably impossible to see. Okay now time to focus. Navigating out. Trying to look every 6th stroke for the antenna and the little ball bush from the photo at the race briefing yesterday. Totally have it memorized. Don’t see it, just see a bunch of hills far away. Have a hunch it’s more to the left.. all the teams swimming out to the right. Maybe move a bit that way until I see it. Look back, every 6th stroke, to check on Desirée. She’s always with me, but I like to make sure. Annoying that the safety buoy sometimes is in the way of her head. Note to self to let her take it next race. Swimming forward, until I see the antenna. There it is! That’s totally it, I had it memorized from the picture. Can’t feel the current, but better to be safe. Aiming to the left of the little bush. We swim in great pace. I see other teams far to the right, makes me doubt for a second. But no, I’m sure. I can navigate. That’s where we’re going. Keeping straight. It gets wavy, I can feel the current in the middle of the channel. It’s there, but not even close to the current at OtillO 2017. I feel safe, I know the OtillO safety boats are looking over us. Getting closer. Looking for that lighthouse. Don’t see it. Unsure of course, stops and asks Desirée. She points at the lighthouse! Ah great! But much farther right than I thought… Oh well. Going for it. Wait, what? I see the exit flag is over THERE. To the left… okay that is totally it. NOT going to that lighthouse. Setting course to the orange flag. Now it’s getting cold. It’s creeping up. Stay calm, you are warm. It’s just a feeling. Sensing the neoprene on my arms, the heat it gives my skin. Feeling the heat from the Gococo socks on my calves. Even feeling the heat the paddles generates on my palms. Feeling the heat on my lips from my breath… Okay this is not working anymore, too cold. Have to sprint last bit. Seems like Desirée is cold too, she hits gear two with me. Finally, get up. Shivering a bit. Stiff legs. Stiff fingers. Can barely get the safety buoy off. Finally. But where to put it? Not here. Have to run farther. Get to the energy station, drop it there. Oh yay they have tea! The supporter boat is here too, with Mia, our camp ladies, M-T, Sannah and company! Nice to drink tea, and some PH. A potato?! Tasted good. Now, time to get warm and run some moon rocks on the Pakleni Islands.

Photo: Catarina Axelsson 

Fast forward to long run….

The 13K Run

Okay, keeping suits on as decided. Time to run far. Ready. Taking cap off on the boardwalk. Can’t wait until we run here again, on our way to the finish line. Okay, good pace. We can do this. Running through the center, to the long staircase. There is Mia, haha no way I can walk now. She’s screaming at the top of the stairs, looking very cozy in her Head dryrobe. Steady stairs, running all the way up, the stairs, walking a bit on the ramp. Through the castle. Some nice downhill. Then the zig-zag path. Walking fast. Keeping up with the men’s team ahead. Good. Starting the almost-never-ending desert hills. It is tough here. Why am I doing this? It’s just so painful. It’s strange, what we do to ourselves… gah. Time to eat something. Get a cliff block from Desirée. Gosh it’s so hard to chew and breathe at the same time… Tired. We totally walked here last year! Feel awful, but must be stronger. The guys are walking in front. I really want to walk too. I can’t be a pussy. If Desirée doesn’t say anything, I won’t either. Oh gosh she looks so strong, no way we are walking! Just up, up, up. And up. And a little down, and up, up again. Legs tired, but it’s manageable. We’re holding a good pace. No one caught us yet. Passing the guys team in the uphill. Feeling strong. Like a total badass. Superwomen.

Wow. Where should we go? There’s a mark on both turns?! Discussing with Desirée, she seems sure we should go left, the guys behind us are wondering too. Finally a marking! But it looks cut off, strange… We continue. Desirée is sure this is the way. I’m doubting… see more cut off markings. Must be because of the rain..  Finally! We’ve reached the top energy station. Now, downhill and done! The toughest part is over, and we’re still in the front. Looking good. Two wonderful swims and then doneeee!!

Fast forward to end of last swim…

To the Finish Line

Just 3K left. We book it. Feeling strong despite it’s the last stretch. The will of getting to the finish line is strong. We notice we can make it under 5 hours 30 minutes – cool. Holding like 4:20 pace?! Still feeling strong, strange. Sometimes my body surprises me. Might be the strength and yoga is paying off, cool. Desirée is killing it. We sprint the last part into the finish line. Woohoo! Winners again! Happy. Proud of Desirée. We did it!


Sometimes it’s easy to win, sometimes it’s hard. It’s always harder to win again. Being the “favourite” before a race, is an added pressure and it takes another mental level to cope with that. Anyhow, what makes swimrun so great, is that you’re always two about everything. Thanks for this weekend everyone; supporters, racers, family, organisers, volunteers, sponsors, WILD Swimrun and Team Evol. We all made it a great together, as always!

Until the next one champs,


Image courtesy featured photo: Sara Lucasi / OtillO Swimrun