Stephen Early – Valentia Triathlon and Howth Aquat
Valentia – Sprint Distance Champs
As this was my first triathlon of the season, I was a little more nervous than usual. I had raced 10 days previously in the Phoenix Park duathlon and knew that my bike/run combination was in decent enough shape at this stage of the season. Instead of going down with a specific goal in mind, I was going down to race. Once you race hard and with honesty, you should get the result your hard work deserves.
The swim was rather uneventful – cold but uneventful. Brian Harris was gone from the gun and there was no staying with him. A group of four – Stephan Teeling-Lynch, Ross Higgins, Bjorn Ludick and myself – swam together for about 600 metres, until I saw somebody cut the final buoy at the finish. I saw one of the marshals running out to redirect whoever it was (I later found out it was Ross) back around the buoy. I nearly followed him but quickly remembered that we had to swim around all the buoys. Not a great start for Ross
Transition was long and gave everybody a chance to see where they were positioned after the swim. I determined that Brian was miles ahead of everyone because I never even saw him leave transition. I got out onto the bike pretty quickly and was just behind Bjorn. The first 5 k was more or less uphill so it was in and out of the saddle until then. I managed to get past Bjorn at the end of the uphill section but shortly afterwards he came back around me and motored ahead. I managed to keep him in sight about 10 seconds away and was determined to not let him disappear completely.
I glanced back a couple of times and each time could see Trevor Woods about 50 behind. Then, about 15k in Mark Nolan comes flying past, quickly followed by Neal O’Grady and then Trevor Woods. Although Bjorn was still in sight about 20 seconds up the road, I guessed that the lads would catch him before the end of the bike course. I had to dig deep to not let the gap become too big but I managed to keep everyone in sight and enter transition only about 10 seconds down. Well, with my unintentionally fast dismount (I won’t be doing that again), I was right behind Trevor, Bjorn, Neal and Mark N into T2.
With four top class guys ahead and many more not far behind there was no hanging around so I decided to go out as fast as I could. 2.5 k uphill and 2.5 k downhill, so, hard as you can on the way out and let gravity do the job on the way back. Joe Lynch had advised me to just let loose on the downhill so that’s what I did. Although I was in pretty bad shape at this point, I went for it. Mark was miles ahead, running brilliantly and couldn’t be caught, but Bjorn and Trevor were neck and neck right behind me meaning that there was a nice three-way battle for 2nd. I managed to get a small gap and maintain this to the line. Trevor edged out Bjorn for 3rd, and Mark Horan was a fast finishing 5th.
Delighted to finish 2nd in such an excellent field. Mark Nolan, who is in great form was a class above and is definitely one to watch on the international circuit this year.
Also delighted for clubmate Ellen Murphy who finished 3rd. It’s great to see that all the hard work she’s put in over the winter is paying off with some good results.
It may be a good four and a half hour drive away but I will definitely be back next year. The course and organisation were both fantastic so massive thanks must go to the organisers for a great race and some excellent prizes. It was disappointing not to be able to stay down for the night but I had to be back in Dublin that evening. So, with everything packed into the Amphibia bag, I set off following a very satisfactory day’s work.
Howth Aquathon – 14th May 2012. 750m swim, 5.5 k run
Paul Mahon and Co. have been organising these races for the past few years and the course is absolutely brilliant. They also give out loads of vouchers for Beshoffs fish and chips so that’s a good enough reason right there to turn up at the next race. Paul Norton from The Bike Hub also sponsors the race and has great spot prizes, so a crap Monday in work can quickly turn into a great evening in Howth if you head out for the monthly aquathons.
After a pretty hasty registration right on the deadline of 7pm, I walked outside to see Bryan Keane stretching. That’s great news I thought. We’re all racing for second now.
Anyway, after the swim was shortened and moved to the harbour instead of the beach we all set off in pursuit of Bryan Keane. He stayed just ahead of myself and Kevin Thornton for the swim but he decided to change into runners for the long run back to transition, leaving me the glory of leading him into transition. He seemed to be taking his time changing his clothes so I used this to my advantage and bolted out onto the run, believing momentarily that I would be able to stay away for the 5.5 k run.
The first lap was fast and he didn’t seem to be putting any time into me. He also didn’t seem to be hurting at all either. I, on the other hand was. Big time! He passed me just before the pier and for about 6 strides I matched his pace. Then he just pulled away and maintained the lead he wanted to win. He insisted that he had to work really hard to pass me but I don’t believe him.
I managed to not blow up and held on for second with Kevin Thornton coming in 3rd.
It’s great to race against such high-quality competition and it’s a credit to both the race and Bryan himself that a pro is competing in our local events. Finally thanks to Amphibia and Pixels Pro for all the support and fantastic gear. The Amphibia bag makes transitions a doddle and keeps the wet stuff away from the dry stuff!