As we haven’t had a race report in a while I thought we might try to get the ball rolling again, so here goes. We all rocked up early Saturday morning to Baginbun Beach in Fethard expecting good surfing conditions due to the high winds but surprisingly we were met with a very calm looking sea and the organisers confirmed the full 750m swim would go ahead as planned. When I say as planned, that is just really a figure of speech, but I’ll get back to that later.
Registration was smooth as a babies bum as I breezed through (and got a nice t-shirt too) before heading down to the carpark close to transition. Met Peter and Greg there, quick chat on the tactics for the day, which generally consisted of discussing what time transition closes, throwing on the gear and actually getting off our arses to leave the carpark. Brief chat with club member Claire Guyon en-route who was slightly apprehensive about the windy conditions and probably didn’t really understand the “ah twill be grand” response she received. Usual craic in transition, a few quick chats with club mates (Fintan was psyched), some very practical tips from Peter on how to avoid the queue for the portaloos (won’t get into the detail but it also included a practical demo!), club photo with renowned photographer Damien Jackson, various attempts to rack the bike without it blowing away and before we knew it we were heading down to the beach for the swim start.
Now that’s where the fun started, a 750m swim in what actually turned out to be quite a swell, without any buoys and trying to spot yellow kayaks in the middle of all the orange ones! Let’s just say it kind of became a free for all towards the end as people who thought they were going to drown just took various alternative routes back to the beach. This was certainly a new one for a NS race but hey, we all made it back to tell the tale so who cares. For the record Paul, Mike, Darrell and Peter all swear they swam around some imaginary object that added seconds (that later grew to minutes) on to their swim times and we would like to officially note this for the record books. Once back on dry land it was catch the breath, up the hill and into transition. Quick change (in relative terms), out on the bike, into the village and a big cheer and wave from the family gave me all the incentive I needed to go near hypoxic and drive on. The bike was the normal up and down loop which means you get the wind in every direction at some stage and was actually quite enjoyable. No need for power meters, HRM’s or any of that stuff, just basically pedal as hard and fast as you can for as long as you can, pass as many people as you can, don’t forget to take an odd drink and stay upright, all you need to know about cycling. Back to T2 to be greeted by our club member Brian O’Sullivan (on marshal duty), horse on the runners and away again. By Christ did I suffer for the first kilometre of the run, not sure if anyone else did but I found it tough going. Again, forget the Garmins, basic tips for the run include run as hard and as fast as you can for as long as you can and pass as many people as you can. Before you know it the suffering is over and you’re back to the finish line.
Now for me, when you have a good crew around this is the most enjoyable part of the race. The post-mortems, all the would have’s, could have’s and should have’s, the handshakes, congratulations and general banter. Look, at the end of the day if you can’t enjoy it there is no point in doing it. Elaine arrived home covered in sand and snot, Tom just happened to mention a couple of times how he passed Greg on the run, Darrell apologised about using various swear words about the swim in front of the kids, Jim explained how he tried to decapitate himself cutting down a tree during the week and Fiona was really just interested in drinking cans of Bulmers on the shuttle bus back to transition. So we grab the bikes and head back to the GAA pitch for a shower. Greg throws a dig that despite having a rather poor swim he was still nearly ahead of us all, a brief discussion about what size sock it would take to cover a particular club members manhood (sorry ladies, no more details available), the usual “I haven’t been training much” bluffs and down to the village for a wee bit of pasta. Had a brief chat with Anne and Greg there, a few quick goodbyes to the crew and after a recommendation from Peter, headed off to the haunted Loftus Hall with Catherina and the kids (which actually turned out to be less scary than the swim!). All in all a good day out, great turn out from the club and that’s the National Series complete for another year.
I didn’t get to hang around for the prize ceremony but congrats to everyone who picked up a prize on the day and special mention to Kieran Jackson (who was obviously spurred on by my earlier threat to pass him out on the run) on a great win on the day and we all wish you continued success on your progression through the triathlon ranks. Congrats to Paul Ogle as well for making the podium and also congrats to all of the other club members who took part in a great days racing.
p.s. Tom Casey and Greg Holden have kindly volunteered to compile a joint race report from the Lost Sheep once they start speaking to each other again – Best of Luck with that lads!