First Tri of the year, in Balbriggan

Beach start in Balbriggan

This weekend I did my first sprint triathlon of the year in Balbriggan. I came 13th in 1h12min, so happy enough to get a race down. Full race results & photos here.

We’re nearly at the half way point of 2011, yet this weekend was my first triathlon of the year. The sea hasn’t really warmed up yet (still about 11 degrees), but I swam 3 times this week to get acclimatised.  The Balbriggan Triathlon was a nice race to start: a quick spin up the M1 for a sprint distance race. There were only about 150 people in the race, spread across 2 waves. The transition area was just beside the beach, under the railway arches of the Dublin-Belfast train line.

Transition under Balbriggan railway bridge


There was a beach start – so running into the sea, Baywatch style of course. It’s always hard to know when you should dive in and start swimming, or are you better paddling out a bit further? I got swimming early but some guys kept wading out for 20-30m and stayed with me. So 50/50. I was hoping for a much better swim time, given the lessons I’ve done in the spring and the changes I made to my stroke (Tiger Woods like re-construction of my stroke J). I felt more confident with my stroke, but was disappointed to see 16 mins on my watch when I exited the water. I thought I’d be able to get 14min, based on my 100m splits in the pool. So still work to do. My transition wasn’t that quick either – must add the wetsuit drill to my morning of: wake up, breakfast, brush teeth, put on wetsuit, take off wetsuit, go to work.

New Belpark gear - the beach completely empty after race


The bike was a 20km spin out to Naul and back on country roads. It took 21mins to go out, but only 14mins to come back. The headwind and hill really made a difference on the way out! I passed out a good few people, so was happy coming back into town for the run. Naul isn’t that far from Slane, so I thought we might pass some Kings of Leon fans heading to the gig, but didn’t see too many.


I was looking forward to the run, as I knew I could make up a lot of places. The course wasn’t great – it was full of twists and turns, and the surfaces were uneven. We went around football fields, housing estates, roads by the coast, railway bridges. Given the views of the coast, I thought it would be a nicer run. Anyway I was motoring on a 3:40 to 3:45min/km pace and felt good. I thought I could go to 3:35m/km but didn’t push too hard. At 4km I picked up pace again and thought I’d finish strong, running down by the harbour pier and up to the railway arches. Before I knew it the finish line was on top of me – the 1000m I was expecting turned into 500m. The course was short, so happy to be done but looking for the next 500m!


So my time was 1h 12min (13th overall). My target time was between 1:10 and 1:14. I was 9 mins behind the winner – losing 4:30m on the swim, 4:00m on the bike but making back 1:00m on the run. I also lost a minute on the transitions. So work to do on swim, bike and transition. Next race is Dunmore East on 18th June, one of my favourites of the year.

Balbriggan harbour

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