Ironman Exploits

By | October 9, 2018
Niamh Fleming, Michael Mulcahy and Marie MacAree following the race

Most triathletes  The sport ofTriathlon can be a little addictive. It usually starts out small. A sprinttriathlon just to see if you can actually do it…A 750 metre swim, 20km cycleand 5 km run. Not easy, but definitely doable. Then another one, because now you have a better idea what’s involved andyou can improve your time just a bit. Then you try a few more and the nextthing you know your old mountain bike has been swapped out for a nice new roadbike, (courtesy of the Bike to Work scheme) and you’ve bought elastic laces foryour running shoes to save a few seconds in transition! Next the mind turns toa slightly greater challenge. With a little more training, maybe a couple ofhours a week, an Olympic Distance race becomes a possibility? The 1500 metreswim, 40km cycle and a 10km run are still a little daunting, but you have totry it, at least once. The first Olympic distance is a bit of a shock to thesystem. Nutrition suddenly becomes a factor in a three hour race as you get hungryhalfway through the run and suddenly you have no energy left. But you getacross the finish line and immediately start planning for the next one, onlynext time you’ll get a few of those fancy gels that everyone keeps talkingabout. So then a new wetsuit is necessary and maybe some aero bars for thebike? And before you know it you’re eying up a half iron distance race. A 1.9kmswim doesn’t sound too bad, and a 90km cycle immediately afterwards will flyby, and those new €200 running shoes will do all the work on the half marathonrun at the end. So it’ll require a few more hours training during the week, butsleep is overrated anyway, and it’s lovely being out on the road in the morningbefore everyone else is out of bed. Of course at this stage your significantother needs to be on board too, and not just for that post training massage. Soyou pick a half Ironman in a sunny location and make a family holiday of it.Lanzarote, Barcelona or maybe even somewhere in the States? At this stage thetriathlete is in the latter stages of the addiction and before they know itthey’ve signed up to do a full Ironman. Their whole life for the next yearrevolves around the Ironman. Keeping track of miles on the bike, laps of thepool, Hour after hour on the road when ordinary people are sleeping, eating,watching tv. This is why only a few men or women ever get to be known asIronmen. A 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run are not for the fainthearted. The Blackwater Triathlon Club is proud to have a number of membersthat have joined that elite club and on Sunday the 7th of Octoberthree more of our members joined their ranks. Niamh Fleming, Marie MacAree andMichael Mulcahy all travelled to sunny Spain to take part in Ironman Barcelona.The town of Calella of the Barcelona-Maresme region, on Spain’s easterncoastline on the Mediterranean Sea, hosted the race. Nestled between Barcelonaand Genoa and just 35 minutes drive from Barcelona this was a picturesquesetting for the event and a great excuse for family members to have a littlebreak while their loved ones were competing. Ironman races are huge events thatgo on for days either side of the race itself. Our intrepid trio were joined byover 3000 other athletes and their families and friends as they enjoyed theatmosphere and excitement as the race approached. It was an early start foreveryone on Sunday morning as the athletes made their way to the beach for thestart of the swim. The single-lap, 3,800 meter swim in the warm waters of theMediterranean Sea features a rolling start, beginning and ending on the beachof Calella. Evenwith a rolling start it’s an experience in itself to be in the water withthousands of other swimmers as the race began. Once out of the water andthrough transition the athletes headed out on the thankfully flat and fastcycle route. The day finished with a 42.2 km run from Calella to Calella-SantaSusanna following the Mediterranean coastline and thronged with supporters andwell wishers. The race was won by Jesper Svennson of Sweden in an incredibletime of 8:05:56, with Laura Philipp of Germany first of the female athleteshome, in 8:34:57. Mick was the first of the Blackwater Crew home, finishing inan excellent 11:47:21, followed by Niamh in 13:19:49 and Marie in 14:46:20. ForMick, who became a father just a few weeks ago, and Marie, this was a firstattempt at the distance. Niamh had attempted an Ironman in Germany a few yearsago but unfortunately the race took place in the middle of a heatwave and Niamhand many others were forced to drop out due to the extreme conditions. Manypeople would have given up at that stag, but Niamh just gritted her teeth andtrained even harder. Well done to Niamh and Marie and Mick, all those monthsand years of hard work for all three of them have now paid off and they are allnow proud Ironmen and Ironwomen. Those sprint triathlons for a bit of a laugh afew years ago have lead them to the ultimate Triathlon challenge and all threepassed it with flying colours.