Elite Irish triathletes Gavin Noble and Ben Shaw were clocking up the air miles racing in Mexico and the Philippines over the weekend, with Noble continuing the ongoing defence of his top 55 world ranking to ensure a place at London 2012.
Noble competed in the Huatulco ITU World Cup in Mexico on Sunday afternoon. His 25th place finish was a solid result and signals a return to fitness after injury affected his running for almost seven weeks. Noble currently sits 43rd on the Olympic Simulation list but does face a nervous wait over the next few weeks as athletes ranked below him battle for the final points on offer before the qualification period ends on the 31st of May.
Meanwhile, 20 year old Ben Shaw was building his experience at the Subic Bay ITU Asian Cup in the Philippines. Shaw has a reputation for being one of the fastest swimmers in triathlon but has clearly been working on his running over the winter. He grabbed his first podium finish in an Asian Cup when he crossed the line in second place, just 20 seconds behind the winner.
Closer to home the first major race of the Irish triathlon season, the Kinetica Sprint Distance National Championships takes place this weekend at Valentia Island in Kerry. The race has long been considered one of the most spectacular in the country with athletes swimming 750m from the mainland onto Valentia Island before biking 20km and running a further five km around the narrow island roads.
Among the 650 brave souls there are both social triathletes and a more hard core group. Local Mark Nolan will be looking to add the Irish Sprint Title to the European Age Group Crown he picked up just three weeks ago. Nolan, however, won’t have it all his own way as the rough seas and strong currents may play into the hands of the stronger swimmers. 2011 Vodafone National Series Champion Bjorn Ludick of South Africa is a noted swimmer and will surely look to break away during the first discipline.
On the women’s side, Aoife Lynch will aim to defend the Sprint Distance Title she picked up in Athlone last year. She is clearly in good form having finished second at the Lisbon International Triathlon just two weeks ago.