OtillO Cannes Sprint, 2018

2:30:28 – 6th Mixed Pair, 13th Overall
~12.5k run, 3.75k swim

The weather was beautiful in Cannes for the race weekend and, though the races organisers had said that neoprene shorts would be sufficient rather than full wetsuit, it appeared that no one had decided to ditch the swim run suit. I’d considered it but decided it was best to find out what it would be like ahead of the next days full distance event.

It was hot in the start area and Rachel and I placed ourselves a few rows back and started quite conservatively to try and not overheat. We knew by the end of the first swim (~700m) we’d be clear of a big chunk of the field.

The first entry was a jump from a concrete jetty. We hooked our tow line on land then ‘One, two, three…’ and we jumped in together. I assumed we’d agreed to jump in ready to swim so started straight away swimming hard to try and get clear quickly. The cord tension increased and I was thinking “why isn’t she swimming”, then the tension eased and we were off. In hindsight I should have realised my thoughts of “we’re moving quick” should have triggered some doubts. At one point I went for a gap and then the swimmers closed it, it got a bit rough, the tension increased on the line and then went completely slack. I stopped and could see I had the full line but no Rachel at the other end.

There are these big metal tanks just under the water (I think to protect the beach) so I got over one and was able to look. I was sure Rachel would be just treading water just in sight but couldn’t see her. I then thought perhaps she didn’t realise we’d detached (irrational thoughts are easy to conjure up in moments like this) and had continued. I looked, saw a stroke like hers, raced to catch but it wasn’t her. Back to my stand, shouting “Rachel!” – no sign. What to do ? Then there she was. Turns out we’d never really been attached! I can only imagine what thoughts must have gone through Rachels mind as I just headed off, not stopping.

We got re-attached and I then swam with a certain degree of adrenaline and we still managed to exit past most of the field. Rachel is so easy going that as we exited it was as if nothing had happened. As if I’d not abandoned her !


The next run was along a beach for a while which was a little frustrating before we hit the pavement along the Cannes sea front and had to dodge tourists. It made it quite fun with the occasional person or group getting really in to cheering.

The swim was a beach exit and then parallel to the beach before running back along the beach. It was lovely and sandy for most of it so it’s amazing that on this section I managed to really whack my little toe. It was painful to run on initially before easing off but it still gave a jolt of pain if I even slightly brushed it against something.

There was a short swim before running along the front again along a very tight path due to the amount of work being done to the sea front. Next up was the inland section which involved a long climb culminating in this very steep section up a disused funicular railway line. We were going well running all but the steepest bits and using the tow line to great effect.

Around top was a lovely run on a broad open path contouring round. Nice easy terrain before they took use down a ~ 500m section down a stream bed. This included borderline crawling through a tunnel, climbing over, duck under fallen trees, clambering down greasy rocks, stepping in pools of unknown depth, scree running down lose dirt banks. Quite fun if slow going and rather painful on my toe. Marc and Alice caught us on this section, pulling away slightly on the road descent finally breaking free at the swim transition which they nailed whilst we stopped for some food.

The next swim was a long one and I knew we should haul some teams in. After the first few I could see Marc and Alice ahead. I was passing about 20m to their left and could see Marc breathing right so knew he wouldn’t see me. We exited quite a ways ahead and felt fairly sure they’d not catch us.

The next bit of running started jumping between the massive boulders that had been placed to defend the coast before hitting the road and easier running. It was only 800m before we hit the final sections: 300m swim, 1k run, 250m swim, 100m run. Great end to the race having so many short sections.

We crossed the line very pleased, having thoroughly enjoyed the race. My toe was in a bad way. Looking at it, it was already going rather red and the foot was swelling across the foot above the toes. I realised that if I was to race tomorrow I couldn’t do it in vibrams. They are great for these races other than the fact they just don’t protect your little toe. I went and bought some Vivo Barefoot swim run shoes for the next day.


We met up with Andy and Lotte who, in their second race as a pair, had podiumed again, getting third place.

Much to Rachel and my amusement we saw that we’ve got a rather good sprint swim run world ranking:

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