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The OtillO Challenge

The OtillO Challenge

64.5km of trail running and 9.5km of open-water swimming? Step forth Roland Kelly and Jackie Davies who will be charting their build-up to September’s Swedish challenge

The Race

Name The OtillO

The OtillO is a 75km off-road, open-water aquathlon based on the east coast of Sweden 60kms from Stockholm – yes, swimming in the Baltic Sea, at the same latitude as the Orkney Isles, in September! Starting at 6am on 2 September teams of two swim between, and run across, 39 islands, beginning with Sandon in the north and finishing at Uto 75km to the south.

Race date Monday, 2 September

Start time 6am

Latest finish time 8.30pm

Run 64.5km of trail running

Swim 9.5km of open-water swimming

Transitions 38 from sea and island

The Team

Roland Kelly

I’m a 44-year-old civil engineer who lives in Somerset with my wife Donna and two children, Liz and James. After swimming, cycling and running at school lost its appeal I took up triathlon six years ago, and have slowly moved from competing in Olympic and middle-distance events to the more off-road, long-distance multisport events. More from Roland can be read here.

Jackie Davies

I’m a 46-year-old civil servant with a long-distance kayaking and swimming background (including the Manhattan Island Swim as part of a relay team in 1995) and have been competing in triathlons since 2004 – many abroad and at various distances. Having recently returned to the UK as a very unfit former Ironman (UK 2008, Switzerland 2009) from a 17-month stint as an advisor in Ukraine, I needed a challenge to prevent me from completely turning into a sofa sloth. On finding that we’d been successful in our bid for a slot in the massively oversubscribed race, I was in equal measures both delighted and petrified!

Having been plagued with niggling injuries in the past I decided to take a more structured approach to my training and have taken on the services of a personal trainer and have been regularly seeing a sports physio. Due to lack of base fitness and the grotty weather, I failed to complete the amazing Lionheart Sportive in mid-March, but along with some Frome Tri buddies I completed it a fortnight later. Towards the end of March I took part in the brilliant Peaky Freaky Duathlon finishing 2nd in the ladies.

Race Preparation

Training for the OtillO will combine open-water swimming at Vobster Quay – where the water has been below 10°C so we could only manage 1,500m before our feet lost all feeling – and on the south coast, trail running around the Mendips, practising the transition process and using the kit. A large factor in whether we’ll finish will be the kit we take and how we use it. We’ve planned a few simulation races at Vobster during which we’ll aim to swim and run 50 to 80% of the distance and transition 20-ish times to test our kit and technique.

What’s Next?

Out on the bike in preparation for The Celtman on 6 July and lots of swimming in Vobster. We’ve got to get used to the temperature, start practising swimming with running shoes and paddles, and start to work out what the OtillO kit list should be.

Keep an eye on the 220 website for more from Roland and Jackie as they prepare for their Swedish challenge.

Profile image of Liz Barrett Liz Barrett 220 Deputy Editor


220 deputy editor Liz Barrett started work on the magazine in 2007 as staff writer. Since then, she’s reported live from almost every major triathlon across the globe, including the Ironman World Championships, 70.3 Worlds, six ITU Worlds, Challenge Roth, the 2014 and 2022 Commonwealths, the London Olympics and the Rio Paralympics, to name but a few. Name a pro and chances are she’ll have interviewed them, so, unsurprisingly, she’s our go-to pro-athlete expert on the team. When not covering races, you’ll find her whipping words into finely-crafted shape for both the magazine and website.