SwimRun Catalina Island

The SwimRun Catalina Island race is the first Ötillö event to be held in North America. The Swedish company Ötillö first established the sport of SwimRun in Sweden, and expanded into various countries through Europe. You can read more about the roots of this exciting new sport at our page HERE.

But the SwimRun Catalina Island event is the first foray into North America, and the race directors Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott have found a unique location. The first event happened in February 2020.

The 2021 event was due to be held on 20 & 21 November but was postponed to 19 & 20 March 2022.


Getting there.

Catalina Island is 21 miles from the coast of California, out in the Pacific ocean. The best way to get there is the ferry from Long Beach, which takes 90 minutes. So if you get into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) after lunchtime, you can be on Catalina in time for dinner. Long Beach is a short taxi ride from LAX.

SwimRun Catalina Island

As always, Michael and Mats have come up with a challenging course! They call it "hard and magnificent".

There are 3 race distances at Catalina Island;

  • World Series distance, 38.4 km in total.
  • Sprint distance, 14.9 km total distance.
  • Experience distance, which is 7.8 km long.

The World Series distance.

This course covers a total of 38.4 km, with 7 swim legs mixed in with the 8 running sections. There are steep climbs on the runs, with thigh-burning descents back to the water. The longest swim is 1600 meters, with a total swim distance of 8km.

The race starts and finishes in Two Harbors, before going up into the hills towards the West end with breath-taking hills and views. After going almost to the Western most tip of the island,  you will run and swim in and around coves coming all the way back to a finish in Two Harbors on the beach. Along the course there will be cut-off points, to ensure the safety of  those teams not fast enough to finish before dark.

You should make sure that you are a strong swimmer,  and also a strong hill runner if you want to enjoy this course, and the incredible views. Mats and Michael promise that it will be a massive race! From my own personal experience, they mean what they say!

World SwimRun Rankings

There are several swimrun ranking systems in operation. You can see how they work at our swimrun rankings page here.

A Google map of the route for the Ötillö Swimrun Catalina Island eventWorld Series distance course map

The Sprint Distance.

The Sprint distance at SwimRun Catalina Island is aimed at those competitors who either don't want to take on the massive challenge of the World Series distance, or else want to race hard and fast. This race distance tends to attract experienced racers who go hard, or newcomers who want a longer challenge than the shorter Experience race.

The course is not as hilly as the World Series distance, with hardly any vertical gain, and also just the 4 swim sections. The longest swim is 1400 meters.

You also have the option to race solo if you want to race as an individual, as opposed to the traditional SwimRun races which are always in teams of 2.

A Google map of the route for the Ötillö Swimrun Catalina Island sprint distance eventSprint distance course map

SwimRun Catalina Island

The Experience distance.

This is a SwimRun distance for those completely new to the sport, who want to get a taste of what SwimRun is all about. The course is shorter and the swims less exposed than in the longer distances. The running does not involve much ascent or descent.

The total distance is just 7,8km which takes in 3 swim section, the longest of which is just 800 meters. You can take part at this distance either as a team of 2 or as an individual.

A Google map of the route for the Ötillö Swimrun Catalina Island Experience distance event

Here is a video of the course!

The SwimRun Catalina Island will be tough but rewarding. The courses take in amazing views, and the swims promise many fish - but expect the waters to be cold!

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