The 16 th annual Lost Sheep Triathlon took place in Kenmare on Saturday the 1st of September. This middle distance event, which takes place through some of the most beautiful parts of Kerry and West Cork, is renowned as one of the toughest races on the Irish Triathlon calendar. Amongst the entrants this year were 5 members of the Blackwater Triathlon Club, Gina Lyons, Eddie O’Brien, Adam Blaiklock, Dave McGrath and Stephen Dalton. For Eddie and Adam this was a repeat visit but for Gina, Dave and Stephen this was a first attempt at a middle distance event, and they really couldn’t have picked a tougher one. Traditionally staged in September each year the race starts with a 1900m swim in the scenic Kenmare Bay. This is followed by an 83km cycle which takes competitors from Kenmare out along the ring of Beara peninsula before going up and over it to the other side. This journey takes competitors over two category one climbs. The first of these is the Healy pass, where the competitors cross the county border from the northern Kerry half of the peninsula into the southern Cork side. This is a relatively short but very challenging climb featuring a really steep lung busting 8% gradient section at the very top. Then having successfully made the ascent the athletes are faced with having to navigate their way down the other side with its 6 switch back hairpins. A true test of the Triathletes’ tour de France style descending technique on what can only be described as Ireland’s answer to l’Alpe d’Huez’s. The route then continues on down to the ring of Beara, through the small town of Adrigole and on into Glengarriff. On this stretch of road the competitors are treated to stunning views over Bantry bay with Sheeps Head and Whiddy Island in the background. The next challenge is the Caha pass which takes the riders from Glengarrif back to Kenmare over the Caha mountains. This is a long climb of over 9km with the cyclists climbing over 300 metres to reach the top. The 150 metre tunnel at the summit of the Caha pass takes the cyclists back into Kerry and a long descent back to Kenmare and T2. The recently updated 21km run course is almost as challenging as the cycle! Its quiet country roads undulate along by the river Sheen before turning back and approaching Kenmare town over more hilly terrain. The final few kilometres of the race sweep downhill to the finish line in the heart of Kenmare town. This is not a race for the faint hearted or poorly prepared. The Blackwater crew travelled down to Kenmare on the Friday evening to attend the mandatory race briefing. It’s a challenging course and the organisers, Cork Tri Club, take the safety aspect very seriously. Following the briefing it was time for plenty of carb loading and a good night’s sleep before an early start on Saturday morning. The race started at 8am so the athletes were up and about with the dawn, eating plenty of porridge and making sure everything was prepared. Conditions on the day were close to perfect with the sea in Kenmare Bay nice and calm and a whole 4 degrees warmer than last year’s event. The sea conditions made for some very fast swim times with Stephen Dalton first out of the water for the BTC contingent on his middle distance debut in a very impressive 33:52. The sun made its first appearance of the day as the athletes began the bike course, hoping that the scenic nature of the route would help take their minds of the effort required. Indeed as the morning wore on it became a day more suited to deckchairs and ice cream than taking on the mountains of Kerry. Despite the heat and the climbs both Adam and Eddie finished the cycle in under 3 hours with the other three not too far behind. The run section of the Lost Sheep is notoriously hard, with Eddie O’Brien describing it as “nothing short of physical and mental assault” after his first attempt at the race a few years ago. Despite that he was giving it another go on Saturday. The runners were cheered on along the energy sapping miles by lots of cheering spectators, including their own families. Adam was the first of the BTC members to cross the finish line, in a time of 5:38:56, followed just over ten minutes later by Eddie in 5:49:08. Gina was the first of our middle distance debutants home, finishing in 6:02:10. Gina finished the run in 1:54:51, an excellent time for a half marathon on its own, let alone after a gruelling swim and cycle. She was led home across the finish line by two of her sons, Bobby and Joey as her husband Frank and baby Ollie cheered on from the sidelines. This made the whole thing even more special for Gina on the day. Stephen and Dave crossed the line in 6:37:48 and 7:17:12 respectively. Great results for a first half Ironman race with all of the hard training paying off in the end. Well done to the entire BTC contingent who took part on the day and to their long suffering and very patient families. Credit must also go to Cork Triathlon Club for once again organising such a fabulous event. The atmosphere on the day was amazing with lots of encouragement from organisers and marshals throughout the course. Definitely one for the bucket list, and if you’re lucky, like the BTC support crew of Bobby and Joey , you might even find a few lost sheep of your own on the day .
organisers and marshals throughout the course. Definitely one for the bucket list, and if you’re
lucky, like the BTC support crew of Bobby and Joey , you might even find a few lost sheep of your
own on the day .