Donncha McCarthy tells us about his experience racing the Phoenix Park Duathlon in July 2017. Good luck to Donncha competing in the National Paratriathlon Championships in Loughrea on 6th August.
It being my first year in multisport I had never taken part in the Phoenix Park Duathlon series before but as the location is right on my doorstep and is a regular haunt for my weekly long runs I was really looking forward to this event.
I hadn’t been racing in a few weeks, so I was treating the short 2.5K run, 12K bike and 2.5K run course as a precursor to my next training block and to blow off a few cobwebs before the National Paratriathlon Championships in a few short weeks.
I arrived to a sun-drenched Phoenix Park with training partner and guide David Tilly and with perfect race conditions I couldn’t wait to get going. We got the odd few curious looks from other competitors as we rolled the tandem through transition but ignored these as we went through our usual pre-race routine.
As a visually impaired athlete it’s important I’m familiar with the course so Dave walked me through transition entry and exit points and highlighted any potential hazards so I didn’t end up flat on my face during the actual race!
The usual pre-race butterflies appeared as I gathered at the start line with the other wave 1 athletes, but a few deep breaths kept them at bay as the race director counted down to the gun start. I was expecting it to be fast and furious and I wasn’t disappointed as we went flat out for the first 400m or so before Dave spotted a gap in the runners and we slotted in settling into a steadier pace after that.
I just focused on the piece of string connecting me to my guide and made sure we fell into an easy rhythm for the next 2K which went by in a blur… We arrived back into transition just as the gun went off for wave 2, I grabbed my helmet and the back of the tandem as Dave lead us out to the mount line.
The bike route consisted of three repeats of a 4K loop along the Acres road, along the Military Road and up the Kyber Pass… Here I just kept the head down and focused on my peddling as Dave handled the quite technical bike course. We managed to pick off a few other competitors here and gain back a few places even heading up the Kyber Pass as hills and tandems don’t usually mix well.
In no time we swept back into transition and I tossed off the helmet before starting the second 2.5K run loop… The legs were feeling the pain here as I hadn’t done many brick sessions over the last few weeks so my second run felt a bit sluggish and slow.
I was delighted to cross the finish with a time of 41:43 and somewhere in the top 20 of the field, just about scraping the target I had set myself before the race. I would like to thank Belpark for organising such a great race and to Race Director David Power for making us feel so welcome. Also a huge thanks to the marshals along the course who gave us loads of encouragement – you really helped when the legs began to feel heavy! Roll on next year’s series…