After threatening to do a triathlon in the last few years, normally over Christmas drinks when it seems like a good idea, this year I finally followed through on it with a few lads from college.
Schull Triathlon is a sprint distance triathlon in which you swim 750m, cycle 20km, and run 5km. Each on their own are very doable but putting them all together is a different prospect. We got down to Schull bright and early on Saturday morning for registration and set up our gear in the transition area. This being our first triathlon we didn’t really know what to expect from the day and to be honest I couldn’t think much past the swim. I was just looking to finish this and then see how things went from there. We had a briefing before the start of the race where Munster and Irish rugby player Frankie Sheehan got a good reception when introduced as official starter.
You wouldn’t know it from the photo of me below on the left but I wasn’t all that relaxed as we wandered down for the start! Although after a long morning wait I was looking forward to just get the show on the road.
Further photos and race description after the jump:
The swim saw us start from the slip at the community school in Schull. Things were a bit crowded and I decided to hang back a bit to let the stronger swimmers get off first. I don’t know what the best strategy is because I saw some swimmers head off on a very long way around although they didn’t have many other swimmers kicking them or have the pleasure of kicking other swimmers! Things were rough out there! The first swimmers got off to a head-start from the bunch and I presume it was these two who led the charge home far ahead of everybody else.
We swam out a short distance to the first buoy (pictured below) after which there was a long stretch to the second buoy before returning back to the slip diagonally keeping outside the third and final buoy. After reaching the second buoy my goggles had fogged up a bit so I couldn’t really see where I was going. There was a boat in the way and I made a decision to go left of this but when I rounded the boat, it seemed like most of the traffic had decided to veer right so I panicked a little. This thing was hard enough without adding extra distance! I was glad to see the slip getting closer and closer and as I neared it, tried to put my feet down to walk the rest of the way only to find I was still out of my depth. One last push and I was on the slip.
Jim was first of our group out of the water and held that lead all the way through, fair play to him.
The cycle itself wasn’t too bad once I caught my breath after the swim. The hardest part of the triathlon was definitely the transition from one discipline to another. There’s a bit of a hill leading out of the Schull but I wasn’t ready for the rest of the hills on the cycle route! There was good banter on the cycle as I passed, and got passed by, other cyclists. This was the most enjoyable part of the triathlon for me. The hill back down into Schull was a welcome relief though and it was only afterwards that I noticed the stacked bales of hay to reduce the risk of injury as you turn the corner back onto Colla Road! I’m glad I didn’t notice this in advance!
The run was the least favourite part for me as I hadn’t done much running in my all too brief training schedule. It was hard enough running up the hill from the transition area to get going on the final 5km! Having said that, I don’t think I was passed out by too many in the run but that could have been the delirium and fanciful thinking kicking in :). One of our group flaked past me at one stage which took me by surprise as I hadn’t noticed passing him on the cycle. I was happy trundling along at my own pace, knowing that the finish line was close. Jim crossed over at a very respectable 1:28:59 although the official time brought it up to the 1:29:00 mark. You were robbed!
Dec was in next not far behind…
And I’m up next with an official time of 1:36:20. I was looking to break 1:40:00 so I was well chuffed with that.
All in all a great experience and we are already looking to the Blackwater Triathlon at the end of August for our next triathlon. I don’t think I’d be able for a full distance triathlon but might aim for that next year.
Here’s a report on the triathlon from a girl in our class in college who had a very impressive podium finish.
Update: Race results are online now on Triathlon Ireland. I came 120 out of 208. Not bad I think!