Fermoy was the centre of attention for the Blackwater Triathlon Club on the morning of Sunday the 12th of August as the Edge Sports Blackwater Triathlon once again took over the town. This was the 11th edition of the race and, as had happened in the previous years, some of Ireland’s top triathletes competed side by side with first time triathletes. The people of Fermoy added to the atmosphere of the day by turning out in great numbers to view the spectacle and to cheer on the athletes. After 10 increasingly successful years, the committee had decided it was time for a change. Apparently running a Sprint Triathlon and a Try a Tri event was no longer challenging enough and, not wanting the members to become complacent, they decided that we needed a new challenge. So this year we introduced an Olympic distance race to Fermoy. There were three events taking place on the day; The new Olympic distance race, consisting of a 1500m swim, 40km cycle and a 10km run; a sprint triathlon, which was comprised of a 750m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run; and a try-a-tri event with a 250m swim followed by a 20km cycle and a 5km run. Close to 250 competitors took part on the day. Preparations had been ongoing for many months but things really stepped up on Saturday evening as various club members and their extended families set about setting up the course. Saturday was very wet and we were hoping that conditions would improve for the big day. In the rowing club the registration area was open for business, while hundreds of goody bags were filled by willing volunteers. Over in the park the transition area was set up and barriers erected Sunday morning. More members were out on the run and cycle routes checking road conditions, putting out signs and, where necessary, getting brushes and shovels out to clean up gravel and grit. Fortunately due to the sterling efforts of the local council workers, the roads were in excellent condition to start with. The race was due to start at 9am on Sunday morning and most club members were up with the dawn and once again down in the park by 6a.m., erecting marquees (despite the lost instructions ), putting up more signs and cones and taping up half the park. Fortunately the weather was on our side and the sun was soon shining down on our efforts. This year there was a completely new run route with competitors running crossing the road in front of the park and heading out and back down the Rathealy Road. The run route was described as virtually flat by some people, with others suggesting it was closer to the Himalayas. We choose to think of it as undulating and a sufficient challenge to the calibre of athletes taking part.
Competitors started arriving just before 7a.m. as transition and registration were about to open. We were very grateful for the support we received from many other clubs around Cork and in neighbouring counties.
Over 20 Blackwater Triathlon Club athletes took part on the day, and for new club members, such as Annmarie Leahy and Mikie Sheehan in the Try a tri race, it was a first triathlon. For other more experienced members, like Kay Quirke, it was a first go at the Olympic distance.
We had entrants from Kinsale, Mallow, Crosshaven and Carrick-on-Suir triathlon clubs, but the biggest contingent by far came from Cork Tri Club, who had over 50 members taking part on the day. Despite heavy rain in the surrounding towns Fermoy remained dry throughout the morning. Overall conditions on the day were near perfect for the race. It was overcast but warm with very little wind. Rain threatened for a while early in the day but it stayed away ensuring a better racing and viewing experience for all. The races were staggered with the Olympic starting first. Finally, after months of preparation, at 9a.m. on Sunday morning, the inaugural Edge Sports Blackwater Olympic distance Triathlon got underway. 111 swimmers entered the water and waited for starter’s orders. All the triathletes entered the river at the slipway by the rowing club. The Olympic competitors swam upstream for 675 metres before turning and swimming back down for a further 825 metres. The Sprint swam upstream for 300 metres before turning and swimming back down for a further 450 metres. The Try-a-Tri competitors entered at the same point but swam 250 metres directly across the river to the swim exit. Despite the early hour, a large contingent of supporters was there to cheer the athletes on as the race started. Once the Olympic swimmers were well on the way it was time for the sprint race to get going. At 9.30 the Edge Sports Blackwater Sprint Triathlon started and another 112 swimmers set off down the river Blackwater, shortly followed by the 24 Try-a-Tri competitors.
Once again the racing on the day was very competitive on the day with a number of past winners vying for honours. First athlete home was Aichlinn O’Reilly in the sprint race. He finished in a time of 1:06:49, soon followed by former winners Trevor Woods in 1:07:51 and Colm Turner in 1:08:13. (Colm’s dad, Tom, also competed in the sprint on the day and came home in a very respectable 1:38:55). In the ladies sprint event we had some new faces competing for honours, with Sinead Barnett taking the win with a time of 1:25:03, just 38 seconds ahead of Sian Egerton in 1:25:41. The third place female in the Sprint was Kelly Fitzgerald. Amazingly, Kelly was competing in her first triathlon and came home in 1:27:56. The first Blackwater athlete home was Brian Baker who finished in 1:23:23, winning the 55-59 age group category yet again. In the Olympic race Edwin Sutton and Denise Compton became the first ever winners of Edge Blackwater Sports Blackwater Olympic Triathlon. Edwin finished in 2:09:04, followed by John O’Connell in 2:10:31 and David McCarthy in 2:18:50. Denise who is a member of the Clonmel Triathlon Club and competes in the 50-54 age group,is no stranger to our race and is usually amongst the winning places. On Sunday she beat her nearest competitor by 8 minutes, finishing in 2:32:38, ahead of Siobhain Devlin and Ciara Cairns, who crossed the line in 2:40:48 and 2:48:55 respectively. The Relay winners were the Just For Lols team, coming home in 2:15:44. The first Blackwater Triathlon Club athlete home was Joe Scanlan in 2:23:58. Gina Lyons was the first BTC lady home in 2:51:12, with her sister Ann and Ashleigh Byrne separated by just 16 seconds, with both beating the 3 hour mark, coming home in 2:59:38 and 2:59:56 respectively. Alan Carter was the first male athlete home in the Try-a-Tri race, crossing the finish line in 1:09:39. The first female home in that event was Maeve Doheny in 1:19:30.
There was a special prize sponsored by The Lyons Family Pharmacy this year for the first young athletes home. Michael, whose late mother Helen was one of the founders of The Blackwater Triathlon Club, and his son Teddy were on hand to present the prizes to Kelly Fitzgerald and Filip Kolodziej. All in all the day went very well. The weather stayed dry and the new race and the new route were highly praised by everyone who took part.
Credit must go to the race organisers and club members who have put so much time and effort into making the Edge Sports Blackwater Triathlon the best race it can be. We would also like to acknowledge the huge contribution made by the Fermoy town council, the Gardai, local businesses and members of the local community, without whom the event could not take place. We would especially like to thank Pauline Moriarty and Marie McMahon and their colleagues on the town council, Sergeant James Hallahan and his colleagues in the Garda Siochana, Blackwater Sub Aqua Club, Paul Hartnett and Eileen O’Sullivan of the Ayrton Group, Killavullin Canoe Club, Fermoy Rowing Club, Suzie and Dave Horan of Raffeen Parks for access to the swim exit and Robert Duggan of Triathlon Ireland. Without the marshals we couldn’t run the race on the day and we get great assistance from the people of Fermoy every year. Thanks also to club members and their very understanding families. A big thank you must also go to the residents on the route, the people of Fermoy for their support and of course the competitors.
The Edge Sports are our main sponsors again this year and we’re delighted to have them on board. We even had a competitor from The edge this year with Grace Brennan taking part in the Sprint race this year while Padraig Varian manned the Van. We’d also like to thank our other contributors; Zeus, Blackwater Motors, Hanna’s Market and Café, Riordans Supervalu, Herlihys Centra , Synergy Credit Union Ltd. , Amber Service station, D & M Fruit and Veg, McCarthy Insurance Group, Clothilde’s Fruit Compote, Flahavans, Texaco, The Circle K, Lyons Family Pharmacy, New Ireland Assurance, Frank Power Electrical Services, McMahons, Zurich Life, Avondhu Physio Clinic and Abbeyville House. Part of the proceeds from this year’s race will go to Blackwater Sub Aqua Club. We can all take a few days off now before we start preparing for next year’s race.