Two day multisport festival kick starts the triathlon open water racing season in the West of Ireland, 2,000 athletes race across multiple swim, bike and run events
This past weekend saw almost 2,000 competitors take part in the Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon and Multisport festival. The two day event on May 25th& 26this the largest multisport festival of its kind in Ireland this year offering a wide variety of racing options for triathletes, swimmers and runners alike of all ages.
The event, now in its 8th year in Ireland, has continued to expand its offering to athletes in recent years providing the platform for athletes of all ages, aspiration and ability to participate in a multitude of races based at the privately owned castle estate in South Co. Galway.
The Castle Run and Castle Swim series events introduced in 2018 proved a big hit again this year and the addition of a Duathlon, Aquathlon and Aquabike for 2019 provided for some super fast and exciting racing across the disciplines.
Featured Race Highlights
Saturday morning saw numerous shorter triathlon events take place with many chasing personal bests across the distances and others taking the plunge for the first time into triathlon racing and endurance swimming. On Saturday afternoon the National Club Championship Mixed Relay took place with a team of super fast Juniors from Ennis TC making their mark to take the National Title in this Championship Race. Limerick TC finished in second and Belpark TC in third. Spectators and athletes witnessed fast and furious racing across the 27 teams participating and it was undoubtedly one of the most exciting events of the weekend.
Sunday morning’s much anticipated BMW National Series Olympic Race saw over 200 competitors compete for early season National Series points. Maeve Maher-McWilliams held onto her early lead in the swim to take the women’s title, following her second place finish last week in Carlow. There was an epic battle for 2ndand 3rdplace in the women’s race with Hilary Hughes from Westport TC taking silver and Sasha Gannon from Cavan TC rounding out the podium in 3rd.
In the men’s race it was not to be Sebastian Helka’s day, despite leading out of the water by 4 minutes, a mechanical issue on the bike saw him out of the race early on in the bike. Andy Grehan was in second out of the water but was overtaken by the eventual men’s winner Brendan Buck from Wicklow TC who recorded the fastest bike split of the day. There was a mighty battle for the final two steps on the podium with Cork TC’s Tomas Kenefick putting in a great bike and run to take second place and Stafford Vigors from Belpark TC running himself into third place to round out the podium.
In the Gauntlet Half Iron Distance race, Stephen Donnelly, as expected won the men’s race with a comfortable 10 minutes over second place Alan Kenny and 17 minutes over 3rdplace Garry Hall. In the women’s race It was Piranha TC’s Nicola Hickey – Crowne who was fastest female on the day winning with almost 18 minutes to spare over 2ndplace Jenny Cosgrove from Lisburn Tri Club with Heather Statham taking the 3rdstep on the podium.
In the Aquabike National Championships athletes covered a 1.9k swim and 96k bike ride. Cillian Tierney lead from the outset and the battle for second and third was fought out on the bike with Ruaidhri Geraghty moving up the standings to finish in 2nd place posting the fastest bike split of the day. The battle for third saw Marcin Mizgajski post the second fastest bike split of the race to round out the podium ahead of Stephen Teeling Lynch and Ross Hamilton in fourth and fifth place.
In the women’s race it was nail-biting from start to finish with just 13 seconds separating the eventual winner Joanne Flanagan of Go Tri and second-placed Claire Gorman from Pirahna TC out of the water. In the end it was only 9 seconds that separated these fearless females on the finish line after the 96k bike with Siobhan Forman finishing in 3rdplace, Barbara Krutatook 4thand Therese Murray in 5th.
Inspiring the future
There were a host of junior races for 8-15 year olds across the weekend, where the racing was just as exciting as the adult races. Many juniors, having participated in the events before enjoyed personal bests and others enjoyed the simple opportunity to take part in an event the same as their parents albeit over much shorter distances. It was young Molly Marshall from South Coast TC in Cork and Bailey Matthews who stole the hearts and admiration of those gathered on Sunday when both young athletes who have Cerebral Palsy took part in their respective triathlon distances. Bailey Matthews from the UK an avid triathlon fan and multiple time Lough Cutra finisher participated in support of his Be More Bailey Charitable Foundation.
Molly Marshall aged 9, one of the Lough Cutra Triathlon female ambassadors in support of 20×20 enjoyed her race of a 100m swim, 4k bike ride and 800m run. She completed the run section without the use of any aids, much to the delight and awe of the gathered crowd on the finish line. This was Molly’s second triathlon and she was presented with her medal by Bailey Matthews, a magic moment that brought a tear to many eyes.
Castle Run Series and Castle Swim Series
Introduced in 2018 to cater for the growing demand of athletes wishing to race over one discipline, these events saw great efforts put in across the board. In the 10k, the women’s winner Fiona Mangan 43:57 suffered a mechanical earlier in the day in her Olympic race, called it a day in the triathlon and entered the 10k providing a silver lining to her disappointment in the National Series Triathlon Race. In the Men’s event it was Alan O’Donnell who broke the tape in 40:40. In the Half Marathon Frank Hayes broke the tape in 1:22:40 with Niamh Humphreys taking the Women’s title in 1:46:32.
In the Castle Swim Series the fastest male and female across the 5k were John Tynan and Niamh Moran. In the 2.5k the overall winner was Niamh Corry, edging out Ian Claxton who was second overall and first male. In the 1 mile swim Ella Doherty crossed the line in first place with Ben Vahey in second overall.
Looking Forward to 2020
Race Director, Brian Adcock commented on the weekend saying, “What a great weekend of swim, bike and run, we are delighted with the support we continue to receive from the Irish triathlon community locally and nationally as well as the UK triathletes who travel to Galway specifically for the weekend of racing. We are continually striving to deliver a fantastic experience for young and old across all disciplines and make our festivals of racing as accessible as possible for all athletes. We are already looking forward to welcoming athletes back to Galway for the 2020 edition of the Lough Cutra Triathlon and Multisport Festival.”
Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon is the first of the six Castle Triathlon Series weekend events across Ireland, France and the UK during summer 2019. Each Castle offers a high quality, competitive and atmospheric race set in beautiful grounds and truly spectacular surroundings, with 20,000 competitors set to take part in the Series this year.
Full results of all races at Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon 2019 available on www.loughcutratri.ie
For those looking to get in early for 2020 (23rd& 24th May 2020), you can make use of a 30% discount by signing up online before Monday 3rd June 2019.