“It’s not for the faint-hearted,” Middleton told news agency Reuters (via the Toronto Sun), describing the hardcore race as “almost three Ironman swims and one and a half marathons.”
“I was taken by the idea of competing in the stunning surroundings. Otillo has an edge to it that stands out above other endurance races,” she said. (Middleton will also be raising money for the Michael Matthew Foundation during the event.)
The 47-mile race, ranked as one of the toughest endurance races in the world, begins on Monday morning at 5 a.m. (GMT) and will see some of the world’s most talented athletes and adventurists swimming and running across 26 islands in the Swedish archipelago in a dusk-to-dawn race to the finish line.
Running in a wet suit and swimming in trainers, Middleton and her partner, Swedish pal, Jons Bartholdson will run on island trails, slippery rocks, unbeaten terrain and swim in the chilly (57 ºF) open waters of the Baltic Sea as they hop between islands. And if they fail to keep up (there are a series of cut-off points throughout the course) they will be disqualified on the spot.
“We won’t give up unless we risk long-term injury, so it will be a huge test of our resilience and grit, managing our highs and lows throughout the day,” says Middleton, who has competed in at least seven athletic challenges in the last four years, including the Safaricom marathon in Kenya, in which despite the high temperature and altitude, she was placed 30th.
Middleton’s concerns for this race include managing the constant transitions from water to land.
“I like to get into a rhythm when competing but covering 26 islands with around 50 transitions constantly breaks your rhythm,” she said.
According to Otillo founder Michael Lemmel, who has spoken to Middleton several times in preparation for the race, the biggest challenge she will face is not a physical one. “Mentally it’s quite hard to keep going all the time and you sort of get lost on the way, in your head,” he said.
But Middleton, who anticipates her team taking at least 12 hours to complete the grueling course, suspects the pure adrenalin of the day will keep her going.
“The atmosphere, the combined feeling of nerves and excitement on the day, it’s one of the best feelings,” she said.
Spoken like a true athlete.
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