It looks like it might actually be happening: ÖTILLÖ – the incredibly successful European swim/run series that helped push the multisport spinoff into the mainstream – is looking to cross the Atlantic and officially set foot (or bootie, or paddle, or whatever) into the U.S. for the first time. According to local website, The Log, Otillo received approval by the city of Avalon on Catalina Island – roughly 25 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, California – to host their event from Feb. 29 – March 1, 2020.
In a meeting held on April 2, Andy Hewitt of Swimrun Americas Inc. gave a presentation to members of the Avalon City Council that outlined an event that would bring 1,500 people to the island, alongside an estimated $450,000 in revenue according to The Log. City council members unanimously agreed to allow the event and allocate $5,000 of city money to help, the story said.
For those unfamiliar with ÖTILLÖ, the multisport event generally consists of a team of two athletes (or sometimes an individual) who alternate swimming and running over a series of islands, beaches, and bodies of water ranging from around 10K of combined running and swimming up to 70K, depending on the event. The two athletes must remain within 10 meters of each other and are usually tethered via a band. Racers are able to use pull buoys and paddles and often use specialized equipment like shortened wetsuits to deal with the unique challenges.
Currently, ÖTILLÖ offers eight events including a world championship with locations across Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, and Sweden. ÖTILLÖ has sister “merit races” that take place across the globe, including events in the U.S. in North Carolina, Maine, and Washington State. However, the unnamed Catalina event will be the first official ÖTILLÖ series event in North America.
Catalina Island is a member of the Channel Island chain off the coast of Southern California. Roughly 22 miles across and eight miles wide, the island is home to two small harbors, Avalon – where the race is likely to be held – and Two Harbors. With a tiny population of under 5,000 people, the island is mostly made up of open trails, small beaches, and rocky coastline – the perfect location for a swim/run.
While Catalina currently hosts a few running events and a 35-year-old triathlon, the island is known mostly as a hiking destination on one end in Two Harbors and a cruise ship stop and tourist destination on the other in Avalon. Potential participants should anticipate very chilly water in the high-50 degrees and a roughly one-hour ferry ride to the island.
Interested in getting a head start on your swim/run prep? Read our expert training advice and more swim/run info here. Also, check back in the coming weeks for an expected official announcement.