By Sinead Walsh (Club Secretary) After completing my first Half Iron distance event in May, I barely had my bike unpacked when entries opened for the Lost Sheep in Kenmare. I didn’t have any plans beyond Kilkee as I would be supporting Fionnuala in her English Channel swim attempt and I didn’t know how much time I would have, but I figured if I had an entry it would be easier than looking for one and 3 years into the sport, I am not fast and never will be, and find the pressure and intensity of Sprint races harder to take than the slog of a long race.
It was late August before I knew it and while I had managed some cycles, and had been swimming a bit, there was no structure in what I had done all summer (in contrast to the preparation for Mallorca). Everyone I met claimed to have done hardly any training (a bit like exam study?) so I figured as long as I didn’t come last it would be grand (someone has to come last, it’s just I would feel very guilty about keeping the marshals out)
As soon as we arrived in Kenmare, I knew it would be a great weekend, it is such a picture postcard location, and when every second car has a bike rack, you almost feel part of festival. At registration I felt a little nervous, lot’s of fit looking athletes whose names we know as podium finishers, and a serious lack of hackers ….
There was a great group of LTC members there and Eugene had organised some houses, and even a camper van outside, so the banter started straight off. We had an early start leaving the house on bikes for transition a little before 7, but at least it was light and the weather was good. LTC were mostly racked together with the majority in club colours – it felt like a team. The swim was lovely, calm and warm, and we had brought runners for the 1 km run back to T1. The clever even had bags to carry their wetsuits to make the run easier. The bike course taking in 2 passes on the Beara peninsula was stunning. I am not a great climber so just took it at my own pace. Although the roads were open, they were remarkably quiet, and the excellent marshalling (one person warning of a pothole, another of bad road surfaces!) were only surpassed by the fabulous gang from Waterford tri club who cheered us over the top of the Healy pass, Tour de France style.
I had been warned that the run was brutal, but I figured if I get to half way I will get home. Before I even had 3km done, Shane Scully came cruising down the hill with 2nd and 3rd a few minutes back, but they were the only ones making it look easy, although there were plenty of shouts of encouragement, a lot of the guys really looked to be feeling the pain, and after the top 20 you could see people walking the frequent hills – not something I have seen before. I got to the turnaround but really struggled to get home, again the excellent marshals and fellow competitors helped me get there. I have never been so glad to see a finish line.
Cork Tri Club put on an excellent race, which was competitive but very friendly. They have set a new standard for me, and would put many commercial events to shame for all we got for our reasonable entry fee. An hour or two later and the struggle is forgotten and the delight at finishing in 6:05 was super. The Limerick gang hit the town and CTC put on a great after party for the Prize giving, at which LTC picked up their fair share and we had a great night out. It was a perfect end to a long season for me and if I didn’t know it before as Captain Webb (the first person to swim the English Channel) said “Nothing great is easy”. Without a doubt the hardest event I have ever done but one I am sure I will be back to. Thanks to all at Limerick Tri Club for support and encouragement.