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Killarney Triathlon – May 28th 2011

PJ in the zone at Killarney. The only photo taken all day!

The second Killarney Triathlon took place on May 28th 2011.  [Race Report by Frank Burke]

The Sprint Distance race was a 750m swim, 23km cycle and 5km run. The Olympic consisted of 1500m swim, 46km cycle and 10km run.

Originally the Olympic swim course was a 750 swim due north-west, but due to windy conditions, Triathlon Ireland committee decided to reduce this to the 350 buoy and create a 100 x 100m square which they looped before returning to Ross Castle.

The sprint swim consisted of two waves. I was in wave two with Brian Byrne (a cousin of Barry Byrne’s). While waiting to go we watched several wave one swimmers hold up their hands to the water rescue crew or turn for home before they reached the first buoy. This didn’t exactly inspire confidence in either of us – Brian turned to me and stated in a questioning tone “We are doing this by choice?” Enough said. Anyway, we started with a 350m swim in a direction northwest from Ross Castle with the wind in our faces, resulting in wave like conditions where it felt like you were swimming out to sea. Most triathletes found it difficult to avoid taking in mouthfuls of water due to these conditions. However, breathing off the left resulted in great views of the peaks of Purple Mountain and Dunloe Upper in the stunning Killarney National Park. We then turned north-east for 100m at buoy 2 and gladly turned for home with the wind behind us at the next buoy. Sighting was easiest on the way back as Ross Castle provided the perfect high point. Again we lost a few swimmers to the rescue crew along the way.

Brian did a great time, considering he had very little experience of open water swimming.

While my time wasn’t anything to write home about, it was my best open water swim to date. I swam front-crawl from start to finish without stopping, resting, panicking etc – and before ye unleash – I know that’s what you’re supposed to do, but knowing and doing are two different things!

The Olympic triathletes were next to go, which included PJ (aka Felix). Likewise, he took in a lot of water, but I’m not surprised because he never stopped talking all the way to Killarney! Seriously though, he took a while to get into a swim rhythm but ended up doing a great time.

Out of the water and into transition, wetsuit off first go, long-sleeve jacket on as water was cold and likewise air temperature. Cycling up the road, I couldn’t figure how my legs were under such pressure. To cut a long story short, here’s a tip for everyone – ensure you check your wheel alignment in advance of all races!
The cycle route was an urban loop by two for sprint and by four for Olympic. A little disappointing for somewhere so scenic, however it was extremely well marshalled and the Garda did an outstanding job at 8 junctions, giving right-of-way to cyclists at all times. However one particular junction had a constant 1 mile tailback of traffic, which resulted in some triathletes taking the inside cycle lane and having to hop onto path when lane got blocked by a car. It was here that Brian took a tumble and injured his calf badly, but carried on valiantly. Others took the middle of the road, which was quite dangerous, due to on-coming traffic.
I met PJ flying by as I completed my first loop. Second loop went a little better, as the brake block obviously wore down a little more, but calf cramp kicked in.

PJ completed the four loops in a great time. My T2 consisted of calf stretching as did the first kilometre of the run, but I finally got going. PJ did a great T2 and was the third fastest of the Olympic. We’ll never hear the end of that one! BTW – did I mention, I beat him in the T1 – something he was reminded of several times on the way home.

The run was through Ross Island which contains the oldest copper mine in Ireland (according to BanB host – so open to correction DF). Two loops for Sprint and four loops for Olympic distance through this very scenic run route on a mix of trail and narrow semi-tarred path through wild garlic carpeted woodland with occasional views over the lake. It was not a route for the purest runners as it was very undulating to hilly, but i liked it. PJ did a good run considering what had gone before and Brian did extremely well to complete the run considering the state of his calf.

All told an enjoyable day – of course the sun came out and wind died down when all was finished. It was a well organised event. Would I do it again – yes if they changed the cycle route and sent us to the country.

Thanks to PJ for helping with the driving – 165.6 miles down of which he did 5.6miles and managed to drive from Kilkenny home on return leg. Thanks to Jim F for the bike carrier.

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