The countries top ranked CAT 1 qualified athletes will get a second opportunity to race over the draft legal format and it’s shaping up to be a highly competitive affair.
Last time out at the Vodafone Dublin City Triathlon we saw an interesting statistic where the top 5 finishers in the men’s race were also the 5 fastest athletes over the opening 4 kilometres of the bike split and the top 8 finishes overall were in the top 10 fastest split times for the final bike segment.
So while the swim will no doubt again play a big part come Saturday morning, speed through the transition zone and at key times of the bike will also factor into the results.
The men’s race will feature Standard Distance Silver Medallist, Con Doherty who will be hoping to be closer to the front out of the water than he was at the Vodafone Dublin City Triathlon. The Westport man has been posting some impressive times in the pool in training and is determined to transfer that into the open water in a race situation. Should he be near the front off the bike he’s going to be a contender for the win as he posted a 33:07 10-kilometre run in horrid conditions in Dublin.
Standard Distance Bronze Medallist, Chris Mintern did everything right last time out as he had a front pack swim and worked well with eventual winner, Russell White on the bike. He’ll be hoping for much the same come Saturday but with a little more left in the tank for the run he could push for an even better finish.
The Sprint Championships has also attracted a whole host of new contenders into the mix. 16 year old, James Edgar will be a major threat as the junior has the potential to swim with the best and produced a 16:29 5km run at the Junior European Triathlon Championships in July.
Neil Bolger has a preference for the draft legal format having travelled to race in the British Super Series on a number of occasions and has represented Ireland at European Cup level earlier this season. In 2013 Bolger finished an impressive 4th in the British Super Series and racing with the support of his local club, Pulse, he will be keen to impress. The Dublin man has previously clocked 32:27 for 10 kilometres at the end of a triathlon which will sound warning bells for all the main contenders.
Outside of this we see the return of Kieran Jackson, Aaron O’Brien and Rory Sexton who all missed the action at the Vodafone Dublin City Triathlon.
GB’s former Junior and U23 World Champion, Richard Horton is back in the fold again. Horton made his way through a number of packs on the bike in Dublin and set a blistering 32:42 run split for the 10 kilometres of cross country. His podium hopes will be given a major boast if he’s out of the water near the front or if the pace set by the lead pack slows in anyway.
The women’s race is set to be equally as fascinating. Being raced over the sprint distance it opens it up to the many talented juniors coming through the ranks including Christine Russell, Niamh Corry, Sophie O’Brien, Elaine Yelverton, Lulu Keane and many more.
Standard Distance National Champion, Carolyn Hayes is back in action over the sprint distance and looks hard to beat. With the addition of a host of top young swimmers she is likely to have more company on the bike leg and the threat of a strong runner stealing the glory.
Any hesitation in pushing the pace on the bike will leave the door open for some of the uber runners such as Eimear Fitzmaurice who clocked 37:08 in Dublin. Rachel Hawker was very impressive in that race also, winning the silver medal a mere second ahead of Fitzmaurice and is a strong contender for a podium finish in Clogherhead.
Current Duathlon National Champion and former Commonwealth Games competitor, Heather Foley missed the Standard Distance National Championships but is back in the mix over the sprint distance. Foley is likely to be down on the leaders out of the water but is such a powerful cyclist and talented runner she may well catch the early swim leaders.
Racing gets under way at 10am on Port Beach, Clogherhead. Spectators are encouraged to arrive early to offer their support. Alternatively you can follow the action live on twitter via @tri_ireland.