Author: Kim Svensson, Head of Technology with Spocks Family
Through the open waters and across the islands of the Swedish wilderness, battling the elements in the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship isn’t for the faint-hearted. The total distance is 75 kilometres, of which 10 km are open-water swimming and 65 km are trail-running, presenting a huge physical – and doubtless mental – challenge. Taking place in early September, competitors battle along remote islands that form the archipelago to the south east of Stockholm.
The race was first held in 2006 with a series of build-up races now supporting it and leading up to this annual event. Involving teams of two people, they swim between 26 islands and then run across them. This year a new world record of 7:59.04 was set but some competitors took over 14 hours. It offers an extremely tough challenge to participants and an almost equal challenge to anyone wishing to bring the event to viewers!
We are Spocks Family, a communications company that specialises in storytelling for video production. The Spocks Family name is new but the company has been operating for four years. Right from the outset ten years ago we’ve been wondering how anyone could bring this extremely tough race to a much wider audience. But given that it takes place across an archipelago, in and out of water and over 75 km you can immediately see the immense challenges, connectivity being a main one. While 3G networks are available, a single connection was never going to be enough. Of course the islands of the archipelago are not connected to one another via fibre and given our budget using satellite was out of the question too.
So four years ago we did the first actual test. We used simple, cheap solutions to see if it was possible to even get any image out of there. We found that it was possible but that it’s, of course, very technology-dependent. 3G coverage is there but as mentioned above, this wasn’t ever going to be sufficient. We needed several. Because we are moving on boats, across islands, slipping, sliding in water, out of water we needed a much more reliable as well as flexible solution.
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