[Report by Don Morrissey]
It’s fair to say, my mid-2013 season did not go to plan. I missed my priority races due to a mixture of a recurring virus, a wrist injury and work pressures leaving me with my normal season goals and race schedule in tatters. London was always going to be the number one priority and that came about (separate post), but I had no Standard Distance races and thus no NS points. Then late in the season, I decided lets sneak two in and hit my goal (but still trying not to effect London). However there were only three left at that time and one clashed with the Tour De Frank, so I had to travel…
Mourne Triathlon 31/8/2013
Situated a the foot of the Mourne Mountains, 30k East of Newry, Castlewellan made for the perfect backdrop for a triathlon. As I was only two weeks from London, my race goal was storm the swim (needed a good swim as I had a few dodgy performances this year), solid bike and admire the mountains on the run and that’s exactly what happened. By far in away my best swim ever. I decided to mix it up in the middle of the pack, boxed and punched my way free, drafted all the way and came out in 21mins 30 secs (3 mins ahead of Bryan McCrystall and only a minute behind the eventual winner). The road surfaces on the bike were exceptional. A two lap course with swirling winds, serious drags and a 43k distance, meant I decided to burn the first lap and take it easy on the second. I was 2 1/2 mins faster on the first and came home in a solid 1.17 bike. Then the run, typically I started off fast, hitting the first two kms in 4.01 & 4.04, then came a 700 metre drag up a fire road, which I was unprepared for. I was so poor up the hill, I actually looked around to see if my legs were still at the bottom of the hill. Hence it was time to ignore the splits and just jog admiring the lakes and mountains. 48 mins later I trotted into the finish area in 2.29 and a solid but unspectacular 67th overall. Did exactly what I had come for without drilling the legs too much on the run. Happy overall and the swim of my life, roll on London.
Well the picture above speaks for itself. Belmullet is 51kms West of Ballina (the furthest I’d ever been before) and An Fud Dubh (Blacksod) deep in the Gaeltacht, a further 22k West. In fact when you turn left after Belmullet, it’s a long Cul De Sac out to the coast and back. I had to collect my bike in Dublin on the way, which was being delivered back from London, so 7 hours later I rolled into Belmullet . The race organisers were smart providing two hats for a mass start with the faster coloured hats entering the water first, nice one. My end of season swimming had been good, so I mixed it up in the middle front again. This time it was carnage, but I eventually pushed through to the turn-around point. Then came the hardest section of open water swimming I’d ever experienced, straight back into a gale force wind and I must have got ‘wave-slapped’ at least 20 times while trying to sight. I still came out of the water in 22.54 (very happy) with the conditions and well inside the top 30. Only the best athlete in the World Kevin Thornton beat me through T1 (by 1 second) and then away out on the bike. Within 2k, the organisers decided to put the cyclists through the hardest 1k climb into a gale force wind I’ve ever experienced. I literally was on my limits getting to the top and I knew there and then my legs were still in London and this was now going to be a struggle to the finish. The bike to the turnaround was fast and came quickly, but upon turning, you were hit with that gale force wind and rain, and this time for 22k (44k bike) back to transition and I thought it would never end. 1:18:40 later and i was into T2, got through quickly and off on the run. This time it was left up a different road, but a similar gradient to the bike and into the wind. Then if that hill, wind and rain wasn’t enough, 3k later we found ourselves running on the beach for 1.5k leaving 4″ deep footprints behind us. That was the end of me, I cramped up big time and had to stop three times in total from there to the finish. Despite my legs and cramps, i managed to run a 3.57 final 1k to finish in 48.53. I left a lot of time on the course but I also left my guts, so I can’t complain. I would argue with the conditions, the course and my poor legs, the hardest triathlon I’ve done. 58th overall from 230 odd, 4th in my age-group (2nd of the season), so solid but not exactly my best. I’m done.
Neither of these courses suited me and neither were on any sort of priority list. I finished, I’m done, not much more can be said. So I did Valentia, Blacksod and Mourne this year, certainly visited the Country. Despite the ruggedness and beauty of both of these races, probably not to return. However the friendliness and organisation on both was superb. Going for a long mental and physical rest now.