Race Report:

Lough Cutra 

The first Nation Series race of the year always draws a good field with people looking to put down a marker early on in the season. Lough Cutra was no different, with the added handful of top class British athletes over for the team race it was going to be a tough day of racing.

After a good race in Joey I was hopeful of another solid performance but after missing the training day at the castle I didn’t know what to expect from the course.

I went in for my first open water swim of the year Monday before and I can’t say I enjoyed the experience so I made a point of getting in for another dip in Castleconnel later on that week (much better).

The morning of the race was a 6am start so I decided to forgo the usual pre breakfast run, the extra sleep seemed like a better option. Breakfast done and on the road for 6:30am. We arrived nice and early registered and dropped the bikes.

After racking the bike I walked the exit from transition to the mount line and it wasn’t pretty. Seemed like a long way to run with the bike all on wet grass then a sharp right and you were at the mount line on a nice little hill.

A few of us did the warm up on the bike out route afterwards it was into the wetsuit and down to the start.

The swim course looked nice the lake was still and it was a straight up and back. At the start I decided to try stay on Joanne’s feet but again as in Joey I lost feet (STL not gonna be happy I thought) and ended up swimming most of the 1500 on my lonesome. I could see Joanne up ahead (due to her kick) but just couldn’t make up the distance. I felt I had a good swim and I heard Mags shouting 22 50 or there about as I got out of the water so I was delighted running to T1 (Thanks Mags). T1 was shocking I stupidly put my gels on my race belt which I hung off the bike and wasted many precious seconds trying to grab the belt around by back with it blowing in the breeze, lesson learned number under wetsuit. I navigated the grassy hill up to the mount line where I managed to mount the bike on the hill just about.

The first few k on the bike were good I was spinning the legs and feeling good on the open road. We then turned off the main road and on to the rough technical(ish) section. I lost a nice bit of time here on both laps but managed to navigate the section alive anyway. I was caught by a few on this section but managed to stay ahead and pull away when we got back onto the main road. I was happy to see the end of the bike and after a sketchy dismount with Mark Nolan breathing down my neck T2 went well and I managed to open a 20second gap.

The run was in no uncertain terms horrible….. 2 laps of off road running through forest trails and through fields. I kept a reasonable pace although I was not making any ground on the lad in front of me but at the same time I wasn’t getting caught either. On the second lap I managed to pass the female British athlete around 7k. Nearing the end of the second lap I was unceremoniously halted in my progress due to the fact that the bike and run course crossed over and the bikes had the right of way.. Not ideal to be stopped while bikes whizz by all the while getting ran down by the athletes behind. I managed to get across the road and kept my place to the finish line.

I ended up 16th overall which I was happy with in an Olympic NS race. Still a lot of work to do but I was happy with my days work on a tough course. A lot of happy faces at the finish line from the GoTri lads and lasses too.

Alan O Brien
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