Friday, 21 April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017

Sunday, 2 April 2017

On point with Nadja Odenhage

Stunning sport produces spectacular pictures. One name that is heavily connected with remarkable Swimrun images is Nadja Odenhage. Based in the Dalarna region in the middle of the picturesque Swedish forests Nadja produces photographs of Athletes that do stick out and transfer inimitable feelings. Endurance and adventure sports of all kinds are where she sets her marks. I catched up with her to find out more about her work and drive.

Runssel: Since when do you take images professionally? When and why did you start?
Nadja: I started back in 2012 after an injury that kept me away from doing sports myself. Some months after I got hurt I got granted a studentship called "Scandinavian photo scholarship". At the same time, Mats Skott rang me and asked if I would join their ÖTILLÖ media crew. I loved the idea and subsequently teamed up as one of two photographers at the ÖTILLÖ media crew. I've been working professionally since.

Runssel: You have been involved in adventure sports for quite some time. What is the magnificence in capturing these sports?
Nadja: The outdoors! The nature! The shifting weather that produces thrilling conditions and of course the hard working athletes. The combination is magical and keeps me motivated and fascinated.

As the morning sun starts to bright up the Stockholm Archipelago Nadja captures the first long swim segment of the course. 

Runssel: Besides Jakob Edholm you have been on the forefront of SwimRun snapping. You seem to capture the spirit of the sport in a very special way and certainly motivate people to go out and try this sport. Where do you see the speciality of the sport and what does it take to capture it?
Nadja: Thank you! I believe I'm intrigued by understanding the athletes, and by that also understanding the sport. Trying to be one step ahead and knowing where to find emotions and expressions. There is also an intellectual viewpoint. In SwimRun, the team of two adds something unique to the whole performance. There seems to be an extra dimension.

Runssel: Which camera set-up do you use while covering a competition? In what way do you pre-check the course? What complications do you face generally?
Nadja: I only use Canon. There's no time to mess around with gear so I usually bring 3-4 fixed sets of cameras. For example one 7D with a wide-angle like EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM. One 5D with an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens or an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens depending on the type of competition and situations on the course. Unfortunately I also carry a pretty heavy underwater housing. Ikelite with a Canon fisheye EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is my type of choice. It is great to work with but pretty heavy while climbing around of course. A flash is useful for the longer races that start before sunrise and end long after sunset.

I use Salomon or Icebug shoes like the Swimrunners i capture. Further than that fast drying clothes (Tierra is my favourite) and quality wool outfits (I like Icebreaker and Woolpower) keep me warm and comfortable at work. I end up muddy and wet in every race. Similar to the athletes I pretty much swim with my clothes on. I want and I need to dry up as fast as possible. I know my colleague even change to a wet suit for under water shots. So far that is where I draw the line.

It's a challenge in itself to keep the equipment minimalistic as we do carry all our own kit around of the course. My absolute hero is my F-stop backpack.

It's a very good idea to invest time in any kind of course pre-check. Detailed or not, but you need to know the sunlight and the estimated times of the athletes on race day. If I've been on the location before I'm wiling to try out new approaches and so on. It makes the race day a lot easier and the pictures way better. We have been lost some times and that is not what you want…

Being on the course beforehand is a good way to match logistics, knowing where to drive, where to swap vehicles, where to climb, where the boat can find me on a particular island and agreeing on an overall plan with the rest of the media team. Especially on a long and logistically difficult race like ÖTILLÖ all of the points mentioned above are very important. On other races, when I'm going solo, there are different kinds of issues. Sometimes it feels like i need to split myself in halfs. Races like Koster Swimrun or Ångaloppet are very hard to cover as i need to be quick around the course. The hardest part seams to be the faster and faster Swimrunners. All the records they break also break our schedules!

Former Ironman World Champ Faris Al-Sultan and his Swedish companion Peter Oom blend into the raw beauty of the Ötillö course. All well framed by Nadja. 

Runssel: What has been the most extraordinary area you had the chance to take pictures off?
Nadja: Lofoten! And the first time around the ÖTILLÖ course in the Stockholm archipelago was amazing. The sunrise paired with the autumn – Pure Bliss. But the first time in any race is so much fun. You never know what is waiting for you. The peaks along the Engadin valley paired with the clear mountain lakes, the rough ocean and the fascinating Scilly Islands. The dark forest at the ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes, the marine reserve at the Koster islands and the midnight sun of Laponia - all wonderful and very special places.

Runssel: What outlines a blameless image for you?
Nadja: Umm, blameless tend to be boring. The more perfect the less interesting I guess. Extreme sport and rough nature helps. I like emotions, expressions, situations and movements.

Unperfected is fun! Like the one below. It was taken during last years Sprint race at the ÖTILLÖ Engadin race.

But yes, beautiful features can involve perfect natural lighting paired with natural framing. Like the Reed picture from ÖTILLÖ 2015.

And being there when it happens. Some things can not be planned. For example a spontaneous kiss on the race course.

Or that backflip from Koster Swimrun in 2015

Runssel: Do you have other photographers that inspire you?
Nadja: Yes, many for different reasons. For example Annie Leibovitz, Delly Carr, Jody Macdonald, Emma Svensson, Jimmy Chin and my Danish friends at Rebel Media House and Martin Paldan.

Runssel: Which races will you be covering in the 2017 season?
Nadja: I will not be at the ÖTILLÖ SwimRun series this year which gives me the opportunity to follow through a couple of projects as well as new partners. I'm really looking forward to this year even though I already know that I will be missing out on some great adventures with ÖTILLÖ. It's a great crew, and I know they will have a very special year with lots of spectacular news. My list of races tends to get clearer as we move closer to race day.

Runssel: What would be a race you would love to cover and why?
Nadja: I've got a bucket list of course! But yeah, the last remote race in Patagonia would be a true challenge - Patagonia Expedition Race and perhaps competitions like Dragons Back Race in Wales or why not a year long documentary of a SwimRun team.

Make sure to follow Nadja via Facebook and Instagram and get lost on her website

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


I had a chat with Annelie and Jonas from swimrunpodden. In the 58th version of their podcast we talk about sports and SwimRun in particular.

Click HERE for the full interview.

Tune of the day: Raekwon – The Wild

Monday, 20 March 2017

INSTAssel: Let's get on home

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am

"Fuel consumption way too fast. Let's get on home before we run out of gas!" Remembering the late Chuck Berry with a fine trail run around Über-Hobbits backyard.

Monday, 13 March 2017

shoeporn: Merrell - Agility Peak Flex

Freshest trail running material from Rockford, Michigan, grounded outdoor powerhouse Merrell – the new-fangled Agility Peak Flex.  A shoe ready for daily off-road amusement with some attention-grabbing features.  Surely Merrell is no stranger when it comes to running or hiking besides cemented roads. Although they set their target on the more minimal side of things, they just released the Agility Peak Flex with more cushioning and protection.
A springy and multipurpose running shoe. Capable not only to offer a great feeling on the cemented paths but also besides the road. The steadfast Agility Peak Flex is able to handle a diversity of surfaces but clearly has the strong points on trails and uneven surfaces.
Details matter - I pretty fine little element I like are the blue bands that support the lacing and ensure that the foot stays comfortable and secure.
The so-called FLEXconnect technology is hard to oversee and the fundament of this shoe. A proper lateral and vertical support sole that bids plentiful of sufficient and reactive cushioning while on the move. Even though there is quite some foam between yourself and the ground the feel is great. Flexibility is key and the three-component structure of EVA-foam layers within the FLEXconnect structure delivers just that. I enjoyed the added cushion on longer runs and treasured the feel for the ground once it got tricky. Even though there is so much sole crammed between the earth and the feet. 
Another detail shot that features the fancy Omni-Fit system to provide a precise glove-like fit.
Front end of a comfortable yet forceful shoe.
630 grams (pair) is not much for a shoe with this much cushioning. In addition the design is somewhat slick and singular.
A pleasant feature that generates a comfortable feeling is the thin one-piece TPU overlay as well as the skinny tongue. Together with the heel counter and the sock-like structure of the framework, the heel lock-down feels great and makes sure that the feet are steady on technical territory. 
Nothing new: A forceful outsole design is the key factor for a blameless trail running shoe. Merrell calls their outsole “M Select Grip+”. It contains robust and well located rubber lugs that I liked while hammering some challenging paths in damp or in dry conditions. The design of the sole is a great addition to the flexible sole. For a bulky shoe the Agility Peak Flex creates a safe feeling and plenty of traction. 
Specifics - Heel 27mm, Forefoot 21mm, Drop 6mm
Your heel is protected with the so called Hyperlock system.
The Agility Peak Flex is the forefront of the company’s tactics to further enlarge its assortment of trail focused shoes. Merrell adds to the present style that realises more cushion inside lighter shoes. Minimal running seems to be out of fashion and the company understood fast what the market asks for and created the Agility Peak Flex as the novel collections Gallions figure.

Tune of the day: MURS - Survivor

Friday, 10 March 2017

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Roadmap 2017

“What is the plan this season?” It is the common dialog once you come across friends or fellow endurance sport junkies. Almost certainly I would not be exercising on a regular basis if there would not be the odd sporting contest on the horizon.

Face it - Signing up and dedicating to a competition adds sense and a direction to everyday training. Despite the fact that this can be demanding it also means supplementary drive. I certainly like to have goals and having a well-adjusted agenda is inspiring to look forward to.

With our move to Sweden it is apparent that my emphasis lies on racing locally. Getting the chance to spend time travelling the country with my family and seeing all the varied places across this stunning kingdom is something that I look forward to.

So for the imminent season these are the battles I choose:

28.05.2017 ÖTILLÖ Utö Swimrun

By now a classic in the continuously growing SwimRun logbook. This race across the islet of Utö is challenging and a proper first test for the system. I’ll be racing this with my friend Felix.

10.06.2017 Stockholm SwimRun

My first city SwimRun race. Living in a city that seems to made for this sport, this was the obvious contest to pick. The course looks super fun and should be pretty fast. Looking forward to race this in the original German Sparkle Party formation with Fabian.

01.07.2017 Åre Xtreme Challenge

Another highlight and a race that should be well out of my comfort zone. I certainly have to opt my kayak and mountain-bike abilities for this multisport classic across Jämtland.

15.07.2017 Åstol Runt

The 0.15 km2 landmass of Åstol is located on the west coast of Sweden. Since two years they offer a matchless Aquathlon in and around the islet. A 2k open water swim is followed by a 7k run. Undoubtedly I look forward to a proper Aquathlon and a delicious flatfish for recovery

05.08.2017 Öloppet

Styrsö island in the Gothenburg archipelago is where the world’s biggest SwimRun takes place. 5.700 meters of swimming and 33.825 meters of running alongside the inimitable Über-hobbit are on tab.

01.10.2017 ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes

After missing last year’s inaugural ÖTILLÖ chapter on GSP home turf, Fabian and I are planning to face the icy Mecklenburger Seenplatte for some challenging fun through East German liquids and trails.

22.10.2017 The Original Mountain Marathon

Ticking of another biggie from the bucket list. Pumped to finally get my legs across the U.K’s stunning northern fells with my old-friend Seb. Facing a icy and clammy night out and lots of navigation work are going to be epic entertainment.

Tune of the day: Allan Rayman - The Cage

Tuesday, 21 February 2017