Last Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May the eleventh edition of Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon and Multisport Festival took place in glorious sunshine in South Galway. With a multitude of triathlon, multisport, swim and run events on offer over the two days there was an event to whet the appetite and set the hearts racing of athletes across an array of ages, ability and aspirations at the exciting festival of endurance sport.
Athletes swam in the privately owned lake at the foot of the castle then conquered the scenic bike course that took them through South Galway and the Burren in County Clare before taking to the enchanting track, trails and woodlands of the estate grounds, crossing the finish line at the front door of the Castle to take home a coveted medal.
The weekend kicked off on Saturday morning with the Sprint Plus and Sprint Triathlon. The Sprint included the 16-17 year old athletes taking part in the first round of the 2023 Triathlon Ireland Youth Series, it was Senan McDonnell and Izabella Chidlow who broke the tape in the Junior race with Ciarán Madden and Anna Grealish winning the Senior Sprint Race. In the Sprint Plus Ronan Costelloe and Aisling Boyd were fastest on the day.
Later on Saturday morning the Sprint Aquabike and Duathlon events took place alongside the National Sprint Aquathlon Race which attracted a stacked field of athletes seeking an early season podium and National title, those honours went to Jack Kennedy and Vanessa Fenton. The Super and Starter Sprint Triathlons also took place on Saturday with lots of athletes taking on and conquering their first ever triathlon much to their delight and that of their supporters who enjoyed the festival finish line atmosphere whilst basking in the glorious sunshine on the castle grounds.
Early Saturday afternoon, swimmers took to the lake for the 1 mile, 2.5k and 5k in the Swim Series, then at 3pm it was time for the hotly anticipated Triathlon Ireland Mixed Team Relay National Championship, which is by far the most exciting event of the day at the Castle. Teams of four; 2 men and 2 women, complete a very short triathlon in a relay format of a 250m swim, 5k bike and 1.5k run, the final athlete on the team running down the finish line. Adding to the excitement and pace of the day, a number of the Triathlon Ireland high performance athletes including Olympians Carolyn Hayes and Russell White took part in the mixed relay race as part of a test event for Paris 2024.
It was a super fast race and the results came down to the wire in the Club National Championships where in the closing stages Limerick Triathlon Club edged out defending champions Galway Tri Club on the run to take the National Title. Naas Triathlon Club rounded out the podium finishing in third place after an impressive battle all the way to the line. In the Junior race it was Predator Falcons who edged out Athy Tri Club to take the National title with Predator Tri Club also taking the bronze medal on the day.
Sunday morning started early for the athletes taking on the Gauntlet middle distance race, with the sun taking its time to peep out from behind the clouds the racing got underway at 8am. Athletes took to the lake for their 1.9km swim before tackling the 96k bike and 21k run. David Higgins was first across the line in the men’s race in a time of 04:29:01 with Joanna Brown joining him on the top step of the podium as the fastest female in a time of 5:59:47.
As the racing unfolded in the Gauntlet, the Marathon got underway followed by the Olympic distance race. Andrew Coen and Jenny Elliott York took the top spot on the podium in the marathon, meanwhile Darren Mooney and Gillian Heavey were the fastest athletes over the standard distance race. Sunday mid-morning saw the standard distance Aquathlon, Aquabike and Duathlon events take place. As the heat of the sun started to rise, lots of spectators streamed into the grounds of the Castle to support their athletes as they made their way to their respective finish lines.
The final senior races to get underway on Sunday morning were the Half Marathon and 10k before the feature events of the day, the Youth Races, which started at 2pm and saw over 100 young triathletes embrace the fun and buzz of racing. The Triathlon Ireland Youth Series supported by Costcutter was a true spectacle in the racing programme this year. Athletes aged from 9+ raced their hearts out swimming, biking and running to the finish line on Sunday with those aged 11- 15 taking part in the first round of the 2023 Youth Series.
The support was epic from families and friends who cheered them on in front of the castle as the young athletes showcased their triathlon skills, tenacity and determination, each athlete crossing the finish line in style to earn their medal. Joel Moore and and Rachel Smith were the first across the line in the 9-10 year olds race, Roxanne Sands and Victor Topalov took the 11-12 years titles. Ryan Byrne Nolan and Lara o’Brien Leahy were first to the finish line in the 12-13 year old race with Liam O’Driscoll and Lara Buck the 14-15 winners.
Speaking about the weekend of racing, Race Director Brian Adcock said “This year, Lough Cutra proved yet again why it is a jewel in the Castle Race Series crown. The racing was phenomenal, the atmosphere was second to none, support from athletes who raced and spectators who supported them was really appreciated! Thank you to my team, the volunteers, marshals, Susie and her team at the Castle, the spectators and most importantly the athletes who raced! This event wouldn’t be possible without you all! We are already looking forward to next year, and we can’t wait to see you all on May 25th and 26th 2024.”
Check out all the results from this year’s epic weekend of racing on the link HERE