With entries for this year’s race reaching double the 2011 entry and the weather staying dry if a little cool for the day it made for a great day racing in the Boggeragh mountains close to Millstreet.
The Men’s Expert course saw Adrian Hennessy, who was a close up 3rd here last year, take a small lead in the first run over Rónáin O Shea and Stephen Tabb. He extended this lead throughout the day with the fastest splits on every stage except the final kayak /run one (2nd fastest by 3 secs) to take an impressive win in 3:08:39.
Behind him some drama was unfolding as both Noel O’Leary and O Shea punctured and it was triathlete Aidan O Gorman who had a strong bike leg to reach the transition to mountain run in second ahead of local hero Brian Murphy and Tabb in 4th.
On the testing mountain run Murphy showed the benefit of local knowledge and practice since last year and he overtook O Gorman with Tabb a close 4th getting on the bikes for the final cycle stage.
On the run to home Murphy consolidated his 2nd place and O Gorman similarly in 3rd ahead of Tabb in 4th whilst behind them O Leary needed the fastest kayak split of the day (5’27”) to shake off O’ Shea and take 5th with Ciaran Dillane taking the vets prize in 10th position overall.
In the Ladies Expert race, National Series Sport Champion Marie Boyle was the formguide favourite but the strong running Fiona Devane showed she was in good form leading the first run ahead of Boyle and Eibhlin Cleary with a gap of a further 4 minutes to the chasing group of Niki Cranley, Grainne Read and Susan Godwin.
On the first bike leg Boyle moved into a lead of a minute over Devane with Cleary staying in 3rd just ahead of the strong biking Read.
On the tough mountain run stage Devane again showed her running prowess and turned her deficit into a 2 minute lead on return to the transition area with Cleary extending her lead in 3rd place over Read and Cranley.
The final bike leg was to prove decisive however with Boyle regaining the lead only to unluckily puncture allowing Devane to re-take the lead and the victory after the short kayak stage in just under 4 hours and 19th place overall. Boyle was still well clear in second ahead of Read who came through with another strong bike leg to take 3rd ahead of Cleary in 4th with Yasmin Kenny coming through on the final bike leg to take 5th ahead of Cranley in 6th.
In the men’s Sport event the pre-race favourite Derrick Evans showed his class from the outset and proceeded to post the fastest run and bike splits of the day.
On the opening run only Ger O Sullivan could kept up the strong pace and was only just behind Evans leaving transition with David Delaney a further minute behind ahead of a chasing pack consisting of Jason Moore, Garreth Casey, Joe O Leary, Patrick Fitzgerald, Patrick Dirrane and John O Mahoney.
On the long climb to the intermediate bike checkpoint Evans extended his lead over O Sullivan in 2nd with Dirrane moving into 3rd ahead of Delaney with O Leary and Fitzgerald locked together in 5th and 6th.
On the second bike and final kayak legs the top 3 maintained their positions whilst Delaney was overtaken by O Leary and Fitzgerald with O Leary sprinting clear on the final kayak leg to take 4th ahead of Fitzgerald in 5th who had the compensation of taking the vet prize.
The Ladies Sport competition proved a closer contest with Bernie Condron leading out on the first run ahead of Christine Hyde, Esme O Flynn and Sarah Gallagin. On the bike however Gallagin showed great strength to take her into a clear lead ahead of Condron, Hyde and O Flynn and these positions were held to the line with Gallagin taking her maiden victory ahead of Condron, Hyde and O’ Flynn with Siobhan O Sullivan making 5th place her own throughout the day and taking the vet prize.
A great days racing in Munster with huge local support in evidence throughout .
Next up in the National Series is the Connemara Adventure Challenge on 12th May where over 800 are expected to battle for sports series points.
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