Hook or by Crook: Race Report

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Waterford is the best place on the world on days like Saturday. The sun was shining down on Dunmore East, the sea was calm looking across to Hook Lighthouse, the crowds were happy sipping coffees or munching ice-creams. All set for the Hook or by Crook Triathlon. This is my favourite race, and my 5th time doing it. We’ve never had a bad year – the sun always shines and the venue is perfect for a race. A nice course for the competitors combined with perfect vantage points for spectators.

The race had been rescheduled from June, due to the tragic drowning of 3 local brothers, the Bolgers, in a fishing accident in June. It’s a National Series race, so attracts a good quality field. It was my 5th N.S. race this season, so mission accomplished on getting N.S. ranking points for Belpark in the championships.

The Build-Up

The registration in the sailing club on Friday night was easy – saved me the hassle of going down early on Saturday morning. The t-shirt is quite nice – dark purple technical t-shirt with the same design as previous years. I should get the collection I have have framed on the wall at this stage J Since the sea was so inviting, I went for a swim from the strand. It was so nice and calm. Peaceful really, with the sun setting and the Hook in the distance.

Waking up at home at a reasonable hour and having a relaxed breakfast makes a change from a 6am start and a long drive down. I got setup in transition beside Mossy, just to intimidate the local competition. Little did I realise I was surrounded by 3D Tri club.

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The Race

I love the swim here. The photos of the start always look like a shark attack in the water. White wash everywhere, as hundreds of bodies kick and flail heading towards the Hook in the distance. I got a few kicks in the goggles but got into a good rhythm. Around the 2 buoys and then back towards the strand. The buoys were tiny, but having done the race before I wasn’t bothered about going off course.

T1 turned into a disaster. Coming up the path to the car park, I tried unzipping my wetsuit. But it wouldn’t budge. I didn’t panic, as had loads of time to run up to the park. I tried pulling it up, down, up down. Now I’m panicking inside a bit. Can I ask a spectator? Probably not. How about a TI official? Nah, that would be against the rules and I’d get disqualified. So I got to my bike and put my helmet on, as figured at least I’m not wasting any time. I tried doing a Hulk or a Superman, and ripping the thing off, but quickly realised it’s more like a straightjacket. Anyway, without incriminating myself or anyone, let’s just say it became unstuck and I was on my way.

The bike was uneventful. It’s a nice flat, smooth spin on the Waterford Road. I didn’t make up much ground, but it felt really short, compared to the 160km spin over the Comeraghs last weekend.

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Onto the run, which I love. Even more so, since everyone else seems to hate it. So I knew I’d make up a bunch of time. Kev and Brendan were doing a great job of letting everyone know how they were getting on. So I’d 2mins to make up…I didn’t know who was ahead, as Kev Thornton or Bill McCormack weren’t racing.

The hill is tough, but I flew past a bunch of people, so felt confident I’d close down the gap to the Belpark leader. My incentive was this race is also our Club Championships, so there was a trophy at stake. I caught sight of the green Belpark gear up ahead, so kept ploughing ahead. After 2km it flattens out and it’s mostly downhill from there. It was so nice to be able to look into the distance and see the skyline of Tramore in the distance. I could nearly make out my house, if I’d laser vision.

Coming down the last km, I caught a 3D Tri runner who made me laugh: “I don’t know if it’s a horse or a man behind me” he shouted as I closed in. Yeah my Vivo Barefoot runners are loud, everyone says that. High on the intimidation factor so – an added bonus. I really was enjoying things now and the crowd at the end was nice. I finished 14th overall, in 1:19:08.

The BBQ

Belpark have their annual club race in Dunmore and the Murphys kindly host everyone in their back garden for the club BBQ after the race. It’s a great idea, as about 30 people stayed around and it’s a chance to catch up with everyone. We all know the joke about “how do you know a triathlete at a party?”, but to be honest this time it was nice to chat to people about all sorts, not sports related. Doctors, pilots, teachers and even office workers like me. Although you always hear about some cool race that you’d like to add to your wish list.

Derval Devany won the women’s club championship – great stuff Derval, considering her injury problems this year. But everyone is a legend for showing up, training, doing the race, doing their best. Plus all the support – coaches, other halves, parents, dogs, kids, you name it. I was surprised and delighted to win the mens championship. The only other trophies I have won recently are go karting champion 2011 at work and bowling champion 2012, so this adds a bit more credibility than those sports. Yes, they are both sports. I checked.

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Anyway, that’s the tri season done for me. I’ll keep running and planning Killarney Adventure Race in October, then the cross-country season. Keep enjoying your races people!

Race results

Race photos by Ken Murphy

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