Mary leaves rest in her wake

ATHLETES from near and far came together to compete in the Setanta Duathlon series’ second race recently.

ATHLETES from near and far came together to compete in the Setanta Duathlon series’ second race recently.

Contestants ranged from serious, experienced racers with bicycles that look like aeroplanes, to beginners trying the race for a bit of craic. It was the perfect first race for the latter, with clear blue skies, generous sunshine, and hardly a breath of wind.

Race organiser Bryan McCrystal gave the start signal at 9:30am and the air was permeated with the sound of soles hitting the road. Paul Carroll took an early lead over Phil Woods, with Owen Martin only seconds behind him into transition. Barry Hughes finished the first run seconds later, and though the gap was wide, he still had a good chance of catching up as he hopped on the bike.

Mary Laverty showed why she has a spectacular race record by leaving the rest of the women far behind. She entered transition almost a minute and a half ahead of Angela Burns, her closest competitor. Anette Dawe breathed down her neck with less than twenty seconds separating them as they charged into the cycling leg of the race.

Martin clocked the fastest time on the bike to overtake Woods, but the lead Carrol had built on the run kept him in first place in spite of a slower bike performance than Martin’s. He racked his bike and set off on the second run, knowing he couldn’t slack off an inch. While Laverty was by now so far ahead that her win was almost a certainty, Dawe was more than two minutes faster than Burns on the bike to snatch second place from her grasp. The race was not over, though, and the women gave their all as they tackled the final run.

When the first athlete to finish started up the final hill behind the Sportsman’s, positions had not changed. Paul Carrol took first place in 50:23, more than a minute faster than Kian Delaney’s winning time of 51:29 in the first race. Owen Martin took second place, with Phil Wood in third.

Mary Laverty confirmed her great ability as an athlete by adding another win to her growing list of conquests in a brilliant time of 57:19. Anette Dawe took second, with Angela Burns’ impressive performance on the final run not enough to overcome Dawe’s faster legs on the bike.

A lot of repeat competitors clocked slower times than on the first race. This could be because many are now back to full training, which takes a lot out of the body. Even so, there were some great performances. Brendan Kirk, Padraig Lennon and Gearoid O’Hare all managed to come in just under an hour. The long-standing friendly rivalry between Stephen Ralph and Fergal Cunningham continues, with the latter crossing the finish line first this time. Hannah Brady’s fourth place was almost three and a half minutes faster than her closest competitor, Caroline Byrne, whose 1:08:32 was not to be sniffed at.

Michael Wilson impressed with a first ever duathlon performance many veterans would be happy with, crossing the finish line at 1:05:18. Other newcomers to the sport were friends Maura Forde and Eimear Boyd, who finished the race in great style.

The Duathlon series would not be the same without the delicious tea, coffee and sandwiches served afterwards by the friendly staff of the Sportsman’s Tavern. Setanta will give Dundalk duathlon enthusiasts a chance to try this satisfying sport again on March 20, with race start at 9:30am sharp.