[Report by John Dempsey]
Five 795ers made the trip to Lough Dan last Sunday, Bill, Mike, PJ and me (John) to race. Frank cycled the 70km odd to cheer us on.
This is always a very well organised race and is a great credit to Wicklow tri club. The course itself offers a little something different too. A daunting 1,500m swim in a peaty / boggy mountain lake set amid the stunning scenery of the Wicklow Mountains. A gruelling cycle with a nice sharp climb at the start to wake you up, and another one and a half climbs at the end to finish you off!! The run then takes in that first climb off the bike again to leave you feeling well and truly beat up and needing your BBQ burger at the end.
Transition was moved slightly this year to accommodate a bigger crowd, but I think it was a better location for it. The racks were pre-numbered which is always good as there is no fighting with aul wans trying to squeeze in beside you where there’s no room!! As with previous years all competitors were grouped by club which is another nice touch so the four of us got to rack up beside each other. On the way into transition with your bike (and out again afterwards) you were stopped for a photo. This is a really simple thing to do but adds a nice bit of security for your bike.
Bill was off with all the fishies in wave 1, Mike, PJ and me together in wave 2 ten minutes later. Getting into the lake the water was noticeably warm, not that surprising with all the fine weather lately, but water level was also fairly low meaning a long way to wade across rocks before it was deep enough to swim. As usual a deep water start treading water and then we were off. Swimming is by far my weakest sport so I was determined to hang back and to the side and let the bunch round the first buoy without me. Whatever I tried though I still found myself in the middle of a scrum and got swam across by another lad as we were going round. Not being a confident lad in the water my head went and I struggled to get going again, taking a little breather on my back before catching a rest off a nearby canoe to gather myself. After a long internal debate about whether to swim on or abandon I said I’d give it a shot and pushed off again, taking it easy to start before gaining confidence and building the speed again. It’s pathetic how crap my swimming is, just gotta work on it. It’s still a great swim and when you see 1,500m laid out in a big rectangle like that it’s an impressive sight.
Bill and PJ both seemed happy enough with their swims; Mike said he got a bit of a hammering also.
Swim times and rank (out of 316 starters) were:
Bill — 28:12 – 123
PJ —- 30:43 – 192
Mike – 32:44 – 247
John – 41:35 – 303
The run into and out of transition was fairly long, but the mats were right at transition so the extra bit got added to the swim / bike / run respectively.
Onto the bike and the best thing about being such a crap swimmer is that you have almost the entire field ahead of you waiting to be passed out!! Once I was over the first climb it was time to get down on the tri bars and take my frustration out on the bike. Funny thing is that tough and all as these climbs are, they didn’t seem near as bad as two years ago. On the way out of Roundwood I see a Racing 795 jersey coming back the other way and start thinking “what’s wrong there?” Turns out its Frank and he sends me on with a big shout of encouragement. From Roundwood it’s almost entirely downhill to Laragh where the Gardai are doing a great job marshalling traffic on a very busy junction to allow the cyclists through unimpeded. The only issue here is it gets a bit dangerous trying to over / under take very slow moving cars, but got through alright. Out of Laragh and heading towards Roundwood and the turnaround point. The road surface along here is awful, and would nearly be enough to put you off going back at the race again. There are some nice sweeping turns and short climbs to keep it interesting, but in the main it’s just a really awful surface that stops you putting down any sort of real power at all. The cycle goes out and back past the entrance to Clara Laragh. Late morning on a sunny Sunday Clara Laragh is busy, but despite a single marshal on duty got through here unhindered.
I hit the turnaround and soon after found myself kind of half dawdling on the bike. Sometimes I find that I just go too easy on myself during races and don’t push hard enough so a few quiet words later and it was head down tongue out again. Back through Laragh and the dreaded left turn DON DON DONNNNN!!!
Luckily I knew what was coming and geared down accordingly. Now most bike snobs out there turn their noses up at a triple on the front, but I absolutely love mine. All the mega hard lads and ladies up out of the saddle and grinding their way up the big hill producing lots of sweat but not much forward momentum. Me on the other hand had my bottom nice and firmly planted on my seat and sailed past them all as I spun past them Chris Froome style to the top (probably had that maniac looking grin on my face and all). I just don’t understand why people think they can power up a long hill like that any quicker than spinning would achieve, my legs would be absolute toast if I tried it.
Across the top of the hill, down a nice quick little descent and then it was time for the sneaky bonus hill before the final descent. This is a no pass zone which is fair enough, but it was made even more dangerous by the one or two marshals who deciding that waving a flag was not quite pro-active enough and opted to create additional hazards by standing in the middle of the effing road as we came hurtling down waving their hands screaming slow down.
Round the bend, and back to transition. Nice shout of encouragement again from Frank, no major issues in T2 and back out to slog though the run.
Everyone was fairly happy with their bike splits, PJ having a moan about the Clara Laragh entrance, and everyone mentioned the one or two peletons that seemed to be making their way round (cheating eejits!!)
Bike splits and ranking as follows:
John – 1:17:59 – 99
PJ —- 1:18:40 – 109
Mike – 1:21:47 – 156
Bill — 1:22:13 – 165
Onto the run, uuggghhhh. Shut up legs, keep going, it’s not that far (really it wasn’t – short run course!!). Out from the Scout centre and across the bridge. A couple of yahoo’s had commandeered a fire engine and were spraying all out going and incoming runners with water to cool off. They ruined my hair, I was raging!!
Up, up, up the hill. Sure did seem a lot longer this time round. Over the top, no thank you to the lovely folk at the first and second water stations, and across to the turnaround point. Got passed near the top of the climb, but as he was the only person on all of either the cycle course or the run course to pass me out I couldn’t complain. I love these turnaround cones because they always seem to give me a boost going round them. Picked up the pace and back though the second (now third??) water station and turned left for the bit of a loop. I’ve stopped taking water on the run recently as I find that I have to slow down to get my stomach to swallow it or risk making myself sick. Once it’s only 10k so seems to be working fine so far. Again no water at the 4th table, and continuing to pick up the speed feeling good and passing strong. At the fifth water table (5 on a 10k run!!) I finally take a sup to pour over my head and set about getting down that big hill as fast as I can.
The toughest thing about the run I found was the continuous changing of up / down / flat. Every time I hit one of the three it took me a few moments to get my stride right to tackle it properly. The hardest part of the whole run course was the flat bit going across the bridge after the big long downhill, my legs just didn’t know what to do. Past the boyos and their fire engine again and the final right turn towards the scout centre. How long is this road, it wasn’t this long on the way out surely?? There’s the turn at last, no wait, that’s only the car park!! On again, where is it, shut up legs, pass them few in front, it’ll be over soon enough you can rest then and grab a burger. I’ll even let you stand in the lake water if you like. Here we are, final push in the long entrance way, over the finish line – done!
Run splits and rankings:
John – 39:12 – 102
Mike – 39:23 – 109
PJ —- 39:45 – 116
Bill — 40:56 – 141
Everyone seemed happy with the run, but it was definitely short!! I’d no fancy watch to measure it but d’internet seems to have it at least 1km short. I also heard reports that a certain Bill Barry collapsed across the line, to be dragged away (against his wishes) as they attempted to give him oxygen. He was definitely hale and hearty when I left him in the car park afterwards though.
Into the lake to ease aching muscles and who do we meet only Padraig George’s two brothers. Turns out they’re three brothers in three different tri clubs!!
We were all happy enough with our times I think, again I just need to swim more but I’ve been talking about that long enough at this stage, either do it or stop moaning says you.
Final times and rankings were:
Pj Dunne ——- 02:30:59 -126 – 00:30:43 – 192 – 00:01:02 – 104 – 01:18:40 – 109 – 00:00:50 – 106 – 00:39:45 – 116
Bill Barry ——- 02:34:26 – 149 – 00:28:12 – 123 – 00:01:15 – 158 – 01:22:13 – 165 – 00:01:53 – 283 – 00:40:56 – 141
Mike Ryan —– 02:35:55 – 158 – 00:32:44 – 247 – 00:01:03 – 114 – 01:21:47 – 156 – 00:01:00 – 162 – 00:39:23 – 109
John Dempsey – 02:40:35 – 182 – 00:41:35 – 303 – 00:00:50 – 50 – 01:17:59 – 99 – 00:01:00 – 162 – 00:39:12 – 102
A great race again by Wicklow tri, only real complaint is that road surface from Laragh to Rathdrum and back.
It feels great to be back in the midst of it again after the year’s hiatus.