The coastal town of Dun Laoghaire was the setting for the annual Ironman 70.3 event on Sunday the 25th of August which allows both professional and amateur athletes to compete on the same course. Blackwater Triathlon Club was represented on the day by Harry Feeney, Peter O’Brien, Gearoid Murphy, and Kevin O’Farrell. Harry and Kevin gave us an account of their trip to Dublin. We reached our accommodation on Saturday 24th at approximately 11 am. From there on out things got very real, very fast, with all 4 of us attempting our first ever middle distance triathlon. Our first port of call was to get registered. The registration was a very fast and well-organised process, all done electronically, with plenty of people at each desk. Here we received our wristbands and sports bag, stickers, hats, transfer tattoos, and all other information. We chose to go to the earliest race briefing which was directly across from registration. Again this was very well organised in a theatre hall of the Lexicon building. The briefing took the full hour, but everything was covered in very good detail. We were especially excited to hear the bits where they broke the news to us that we would be climbing all day on the cycle. After a wander around the merchandise shop and a few customary purchases later, it was time to get our bikes and transition bags ready. This was the main difference compared to other races we have competed in. You’re given 3 bags for your gear; one for the bike transition, one for the run transition and one for after the race. Every competitor changes in the transition tent. You do not have a choice to leave any gear or clothing beside your bike on the day of the race unless it is on the bike in a compartment. Everything you take off you in transition has to go back into the bag you need for the transition you are in. After some careful packing and repacking, we were set to go to transition.
It was a short walk to transition, where there was a more than usual bike check and a strong verbal ‘Are you happy that your bike is in safe working condition?’ With bikes as far as the eye could see, it was very clear that the first rack was for the Elite triathletes. Their bikes were on a different level to the majority of the other bikes. We checked our bags into transition also. Here we received our timing chips on the way in. The transition tent is cosy, the bags all get hung up very close together, with the intention that transition will never be too busy at any one time with people out of the water at regular intervals. Again everything was ordered sequentially by race number so it was easy to find your area. Out the back of the transition area, we could see the first leg of the race. Nerves were starting to kick in but now it was time to relax and get some rest.
Race day was a 5 am start for the lads with the professional men and women’s event starting at 7:00 am and 7:02 am respectively. These were followed by the first of the amateurs before low visibility due to fog brought proceedings to a halt for 40 odd minutes because of safety concerns of the organisers. The swim commenced shortly before 8 am. Unfortunately, with the time delay, the swim leg was shortened to approximately 950m, which resulted in a sprint swim. Water was very clear with a temperature above 16 degrees, so very comfortable. With the shortened swim, T1 was a lot more congested than expected. The cycle, which contained almost 1400m of climbing, was a one-lap circuit through Powers Court, onto Roundwood via the Sally Gap and back to Dun Laoghaire for the second transition. As expected with this amount of climbing, average speeds were lower than usual, but maximum speeds were a lot higher also. Conditions were a lot different up the Wicklow mountains. Fog and heavy mist on the Sally Gap with headwind reduced visibility to 20-30m at times. This may have actually helped keep us cooler rather than overheating. The descent out of the mountains was very fast, but luckily at this stage, safe gaps had emerged between athletes. Road conditions were very good, and safe, with the exception of the through road in Powerscourt where caution was needed there as the tarmac was slippy from not being driven on or used very much. The support around the course and through all the different villages and towns was excellent and helped keep our spirits high as the day wore on. The run consisted of three laps around Dun Laoghaire Pier and town and was mainly flat with a few short inclines. Weather for the run was slightly cloudy and warm. Here, again, the support all the way round was great. With the course being a 4-mile loop, there were always people out cheering the athletes on. It was a great feeling running to the ramp on the final lap and enjoying the supporters lined up along the red carpet. The hardest part, excluding the actual running, was probably seeing everyone relaxing and eating cones on the pier, yet knowing there was still a lot of running to do before we could do the same.
Ironman 70.3 Dun LaoghaireAll in all a very successful day our for the BTC crew, even more so considering it was their first attempt at the distance. Gearoid was the first Blackwater Triathlon Club man home in 5:28:45. He was the first in his age category in the swim section and 6th fastest overall in the swim on the day! Next was Harry in 5:35:49 and then Peter, just a few minutes later, in 5:39:34. Kevin suffered quite badly from cramp in the run section of the race, but still managed to get across the finish line in a very good time of 6:31:10. Well done to all four of them.