Immersed in the magnificent Ötillö

After competing in the Ötillö Swimrun World Series Qualifier in June 2016, sportsman and journalist Tarquin Cooper recalls his adrenaline-fuelled weekend and provides a unique insight into the adventurous side of Scilly.

The Isles of Scilly had long held a special place in the back of my mind before I finally had the perfect excuse to visit.

I’d heard of the white-sanded beaches just beyond the horizon; of wild and windswept rugged coastlines crying out to be explored. Who could not be enticed by a call to visit this enchanted archipelago just beyond the western tip of Britain?

My chance came in the form on an invitation to take part in Ötillö, an endurance adventure race devised originally in Sweden, in which competitors swim and run their way around a number of islands. It was the first time this endurance race had ever been hosted in the UK, and Scilly provided the perfect backdrop.

As I stood on the start line in a pair of trainers and a wetsuit alongside my race partner, other trail runners, open-water swimmers and adventurers, there was more than the usual doubt about what I had let myself in for. Well, with these friendly isles as the venue, I shouldn’t have worried.

From birds-eye view to fish-eye view, we traded the sweeping aerial perspective of the islands gained from our Twin Otter plane for the views of the human otter – an enticing underwater world of clear waters and colourful kelp swaying in the current. Along the way, we ran along stunning coastal paths, passed historic ruins and enjoyed some big and challenging open-water swims – and it was quite the adventure to discover the islands from this new perspective.

Ötillö returns to Scilly on 17th and 18th June. This year the field is bigger and even if you’re not willing (or mad enough!) to compete, this is spectacle to be embraced, which ever island you find yourself on. The atmosphere and support from residents and holiday makers was, quite simply, second to none.

 

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