Next weekend sees the ‘Olympic Games’ of Long Distance triathlon with the Ironman World Championships taking place in Kona, Hawaii.
Eleven Irish athletes will be amongst the 1800 who have qualified for one of the toughest one-day endurance challenge in the world. The route consists of a 3.8km swim followed by a 180km bike and full marathon run through the hot and windy lava fields. Amongst the Irish team, there is plenty of experience with four of them making their third trip to the Big Island.
Wexford resident, Alan Ryan, is one of those having qualified for Hawaii in 2008 and 2009. Alan stamped his 2012 ticket at Germany’s Ironman Regensburg in June of this year, where he finished third in his age group. Racing in the 45-49 age category, Alan is one to watch having previously earned a podium spot at the 2009 Ironman World Championships.
“With the summer we have just had I haven’t been able to train in anything close to the temperatures I am going to experience at the race. I have had to content myself with putting my bike up on a roller in my attic to simulate warm weather training. It’s not quite the same thing and not nearly hot enough,” commented Alan.
Making his third trip is Martin Muldoon, Co. Derry’s Ironman National Record Holder. Martin travelled to the US in June, getting his slot at the Lake Stevens Half Ironman held in Texas. Martin’s record stands at 8 hours 49 mins, however that likely won’t come under threat in Hawaii, where the blistering heat and high winds are not conducive to fast racing.
Dundalk duo, Owen Martin and Liam Dolan, are another pair to keep a close eye on. Both men have dipped under the 9 hour mark and have experience of racing in Kona.
One man who will not give up time in the swim is London-based Matt Molloy. Molloy is making his second consecutive trip to Hawaii and is likely to be amongst the first age groupers out of the 3.8km swim.
Ireland’s youngest representative, Sharon O’Hara, will race in the 18-24 category and booked her place in Hawaii thanks to winning her age group at Ironman Frankfurt earlier this year. A member of Liquid Motion Triathlon Club, Sharon has a touch of the unknown about with the World Championships being just her second Iron distance race.
The remaining members of the team include Rob Cummins, Mike O’Brian, Ivan O’Gorman, James Mc Laughlin, Neil Feerick and Kate Lahart. They are a mix of both experienced and first-timers but all have booked their place thanks to hard graft and talent during a full days racing.
The Ironman World Championships can be viewed live on www.ironman.com from 5:45pm on Saturday 13th October.
The weekend’s racing saw up and coming elites Conor Murphy and Russell White competing at the Alanya ITU European Cup in Turkey. Murphy was coming off the back of a season’s best in Italy last weekend, while youngster Russell White was making the sizeable step up to European racing.
The Irish duo got off to a good start with Murphy exiting the water in fifth place, closely followed by White. The pair went to work in the lead pack, in an effort to maintain their advantage over the chasers.
“Our bike pack was not working very well together, but it was fast and we ended up putting a few minutes into the chase pack,” commented Murphy.
While the six lap bike course was flat, the majority of it was cobbled, which resulted in a bumpy ride and the increased risk of punctures. Murphy and White completed the bike section unscathed though and pushed towards the front of the pack for a quick transition.
Onto the 10km run and Murphy was pleased with his 31min 49sec clocking which was good enough for sixth place behind a host of Russian athletes. White finished in 14th place and was also pleased with his efforts in his first season racing as a senior.