We’ll do our best to keep this report short; although, realistically, it should be more of a road trip report. A few months ago, I mentioned to Sue that visiting Co. Donegal was on my list of places in Ireland to see before I get sent back home or elsewhere for my next posting, and because she has family there and fond memories of visiting the family cottage growing-up, we decided to incorporate a race into a road trip to visit the area. With only a few hiccups along the way, it was a really fun weekend that just happened to include a sprint tri.
It came as a surprise to both of us that there seemingly is a language barrier between Ireland-English and Canada-English. But now we know that Scotch-tape and cello-tape mean the same thing, it just took us awhile to understand what the hell the other was talking about. I also learned a few Irish words, but have pretty much forgotten them all now.
To add to that, Sue almost caused a diplomatic incident by not telling me we were entering UK territory to get to Donegal – a country to which I am NOT accredited! Oops! She drove really fast to get through the UK as quickly as possible.
With respect to the race itself, the setting is beautiful and it’s a very small race with 107 competitors this year. The fact that there was only 1 swim wave gives you an idea of scale. But that being said, organisers, marshals, and spectators were all very welcoming and did a great job in making it a very enjoyable, fun event. In the end there were 3 Belparkers doing the race but it wasn’t until we were out on the run course that we noticed Shane (Harron) – he was too far ahead of us to have spotted him any earlier! For me, the swim wasn’t the best although the water was “warm” at a balmy 17 degrees (ugh, I can’t believe I just wrote that!) with huge buoys to aid with sighting.
I really struggled on the swim until about halfway at which point I finally got my heartrate down and was able to focus – lessons, always learning lessons doing this sport. Next time I’ll get in the water beforehand and swim a few minutes pre-race. The run was probably my favourite part because it was an out and back along the water’s edge and I felt really strong. I think running so much in the Phoenix Park is paying off.
The cycle portion was out & back towards Bundoran with a few busy roundabouts, but they were well marshalled, thankfully. The only real challenge for us was that the dismount line was at the top of an incline. Try getting out of your bike-shoes while simultaneously maintaining enough momentum to actually get to the dismount line!! We must have looked ridiculous!
In the end, the race was good, but the entire weekend was even better. I love the idea of visiting “exotic” locations in Ireland and doing a race while being a tourist. There are many more funny stories from the weekend; such as inadvertently herding sheep while out cycling on Monday, but those details will be for another day … Many thanks to Sue and her family for such a memorable weekend!