Last weekend 7 brave members of Carrick Tri Club set out across the Irish Sea to the first Ironman Wales race in Tenby. An Ironman Triathlon is a gruelling event, but this was made even more so by the tail end of Hurricane Katia which was ambushing Tenby for the entire race weekend. The race distance is 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run. To put this in perspective, we are talking a swim across Tramore bay (Brownstown to the Guillameen), then cycling to Dublin Airport and finishing with the Dublin City Marathon!
All year Ironman Wales has been built up as the IRONMAN to beat all others. The bike course was exposed and undulating. Well undulating is a bit kind, the course was like a roller coaster. There was no flat on the bike course that went to a 16% incline at its steepest point. The descents were long and technical. The Marathon was also a challenge, a 4 lap course including a 3k hill out of town, a run back in and then 4k of rolling hills and strong onshore winds through the town. Then the day before race day the swim was moved from South Beach to North Beach as the South Beach was a wash out. The swells meant that even our swim was hilly, as we climbed the crests and fell down the trough of the waves. This gave us a 1km run to the first transition in our wetsuits, and then the winds made both the bike and run all the more tough.
Our intrepid racers included Waterford’s first IRONGIRLS in the making Yvonne McCormack, Brianne Mulvihill and Catherine Brown, as well as seasoned IRONMEN Donal Jacobs and David Cantwell, along with Larry Douglas and Kieran McCaffrey both of who were also looking to complete their first IRONMAN.
At 7am on Sunday September 11th the clouds parted to allow the sun to rise as the Welsh National Anthem played. The starting flare went up, once in the water there was the usual sprint to the first buoy. Luckily there were no currents to contend with and competitors made good time on the 2 lap course. The 1km run through the town lead to an electrifying atmosphere and gave everyone the boost that they needed to face the south-westerly winds head on as they headed out on the bike. The residents of Pembrokeshire were out in force to spur the athletes up the hills. The music thumped in all hillside villages and everyone smiled through what was a grueling 180km ride.
Despite the weather predictions, we avoided the rain for the majority of the course. About 9 hours in, the remaining cyclists were treated to an almighty down pour while the leaders were working through their marathon in soggy runners. The Marathon was a blur. Every lap you were awarded an arm band, four bands meant you got to go down the finishers chute. The run became all about these arm bands, like zombies we stared at each others band with jealousy and desire. But the rush when you got each band and the hunger for the next meant that the time ticked by. As the darkness settled over Tenby on Sunday evening so did the rain clouds. The remaining athletes on course ran through the blackness and puddles to secure that last band and make it onto the legendary finishers chute. Only in Iroman Wales could you finish your Ironman into a strong headwind and howling spray from the Irish Sea. But despite the conditions everyone had time for that final high five, kiss, tear, and smile as dreams and Ironmen were made. Congratulations to Carrick Tri Club for their support and encouragement and a massive thanks to all our friends and families who travelled to support us. Our 2011 Ironmen Wales Finishers: David Cantwell 11.54.15; Catherine Brown 12.02.48; Brianne Mulvihill 13.06.09; Larry Douglas 13.31.39; Yvonne McCormack 15.31.06; Kieran McCaffrey 16.03.07.
Blackwater Triathlon Fermoy: Closer to home there was the Blackwater Triathlon in Fermoy. It started with a 250m swim upstream followed by 500m back down. The strong winds also prevailed in Fermoy making the 20km bike ride a real challenge and tiring the legs before the 5km sprint to the finish line. Well done to all of Carricks members who raced there, including Gary McCarthy and Garry O’Keeffe (8th in age group).