March woman’s tough challenge

Pip Spibey (right) and America Villar who completed the arduous O Till O race in Sweden.
Pip Spibey (right) and America Villar who completed the arduous O Till O race in Sweden.

Former March woman Pip Spibey-Dodd undertook one of the world’s toughest races running and swimming a total of 75 kilometres around the rocky islands of Sweden.

The Ö TILL Ö (island to island) took Pip, who now lives in Dubai, and her team mate America Villar 14 hours and 26 minutes and 58 seconds to complete the arduous course which started at Sandhamn and finished at Utö Värdshus on Utö.

The course passed the big islands of Runmarö, Nämdö and Ornö with the running sections going through woodland without trails. The swim sections were between 100 and 1600 metres long.

The course saw Pip, the daughter of Jonathan and Sheron Spibey of March, and her team mate have to clamber in and out of the water as many as 38 times.

Proud mum Sheron was in Sweden to cheer on Pip, who had completed the London to Paris bike ride the week before the race on September 2 as the final part of her training.

Teams had to reach check points along the route within allotted times and Pip and America, who were fundraising to help a friend with cancer and in need of specialist drugs, were pleased with the way they managed to reach each one with time to spare,

But both women were suffering as the race went on with Pip’s ankle and Achilles playing up and America suffering problems with her knee.

“We were starting to worry about missing the last cut-off time at 6pm and we didn’t want to have to come back next year to try again after we have been racing for 10 hours. America tried to push me as hard as she could but my Achilles was inflamed and I was struggling, I ran downhill and walked uphill trying to run as far as possible with the pain before walking to ease it up a bit, America had the opposite problem with her knee she could run uphill but struggled downhill and she couldn’t stop to wait for me as she then couldn’t get going again.

“We completed 12km of the 19km long run before the final check point and knew we had 7km to complete in just over an hour. We kept each other going and gained motivation when we past some men as they told us we were killing them. With 1km on a forest trail to complete in 14 minutes we gave it a final push, America went 50 metres ahead of me and I pushed my body as hard as I could to stay up with her, we made the final check point with five minutes and 45 seconds to spare, it was a huge relief as now we knew we were going to finish.”

So far they have exceeded their £2,000 target with sponsorship totalling £2,286 but anyone who would like to sponsor them can do so by visiting: