Someone forgot to put the Child of Prague out last Saturday night because when Sunday rolled around we were greeted by weather more like October than July.
The Navigator is the only Olympic distance training event we run so the inclement weather added an extra dimension to it to say the least.
As the participants rolled up to rack their bikes and set up their transition some nervous glances were thrown in the direction of the sea while others seemed to relish the prospect.
On the advice of John Edwards we got everyone into the sea as soon as possible. The wind was due to pick up and the sooner we got going the better. After a quick briefing we were ready to go. We were only ten minutes late starting so by Irish standards we were basically early.
From the shore it didn’t look too inviting and in the water it proved to be even less so. A blast of the whistle from Sinead saw the swimmers sprint off. With the tide almost all the way in there wasn’t much of a sprint – just a few quick strides and they were in the water.
Shepherded along safely by John, Margret and Fearghal, the initial knot of swimmers quickly stretched out. At about the halfway point the wind picked up and the sea became even more choppy, turning the swim into a real test.
The first athlete out of the water was John Roache in just over 26 minutes, a great swim in any circumstances but especially given the conditions. Cathy Fisher was next out, another great swim considering she had completed a 4km swim across the bay the evening before. After that the triathletes streamed in and the mayhem of transition began. Paula, Jean and Anthony kept a headcount to make sure that everyone was accounted for.
A testing cycle route lay ahead with some cruel hills, an ever present wind and sweeps of rain throughout the afternoon. The athletes headed straight for O’Donnells roundabout, swung left for Ardfert where Paudie and Ciara directed them left again. Some raced, some chained, some just held on for dear life. At the Oyster Dan and Maura kept a watchful eye as the athletes first took a left to repeat the loop and then a right to head back towards Fenit.
The real energy sapper came on the run back from the Oyster to Fenit as a cruel head wind turned legs of skin and bone to jelly. Hazel took position across from the West End to alert incoming cyclists.
There was lots of support at T2 as families, friends and passers-by applauded the effort of the cyclists. They headed out on the run with shouts of encouragement ringing in their ears. Along the route Margaret, Den, Norman, Thelma and Ciara kept them going. Milosz who had skipped on the swim put in a powerful performance on the bike and run. John Roache was impressive too and Siobhan Griffin was the first woman home.
Triathlon is often said to be a solitary sport. I guess that’s partly true.
No one can get out there and crest the waves for you, turn the pedals for your, run the hills for you. And yet there were family members and friends of all the athletes who were there at the beginning to cheer them out into the water who were still there cheering even louder as they ran across the finish line and there were some lovely scenes at the end.
By the time the athletes were crossing the line it’s fair to say there were a lot of tired bodies and everyone who took part knew they’d had a good test. A huge congratulations to all who took part and completed a grueling course in less than ideal conditions.
Tired bodies dragged themselves into Mike’s for some warmth, coffee and food and to pick over the events of the day.
A big thank you to everyone who participated, to those who marshaled and those who stood out in the cold and rain all day to help out and support.