The Lough Cutra Castle Olympic distance triathlon took place on Sunday May 28th, the second day of the weekend-long Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon and Multisport event for 2023. A gorgeous race location on the grounds of Lough Cutra Castle matched this year only by the fantastic weather which saw the water temperature in the lake an unusually warm 18 degrees.
Our wave in orange caps started pretty promptly at 9.30am, with the first half of the swim directly out 750m keeping Apple Island to our left. The water was as warm as expected and murky, I held back towards the back as it was my first Olympic distance and I didn’t want to start off too fast and run out of steam. We returned the same route on the opposite side of the cones. I felt a pull to the right and had to focus to keep left though other swimmers didn’t seem to be affected so it may have been my stroke.
After a solid swim, I was helped through the swim exit point by Cass, race director Brian Adcock’s wife, who provided the promised high-five.
Transition felt quick and I managed to inhale a banana – however, the hilly zig-zag jog to the bike mount line adds a minute or two. I safely exited the castle grounds, ensuring I hit the 2 sharp speed bumps at a slow speed and then joined the main road to Gort, turning left at the town square. This undulating road brings you through to views of the Burren towards Kinvara, with a very short section recognisable from the Kinvara Rock and Road Half Marathon route. I took on a small protein bar and a gel during the first half of the cycle.
We merged with The Gauntlet (half iron) cyclists around 25k in, with many zipping past in enviable high-end bikes. The final quarter of this single 40k loop brought us back around to the main road to Gort, where we entered the castle grounds again through the main entrance on our right and into T2.
Another quick transition and we exited to the first of two 5k loops, through mainly forest trail and fields. The run is difficult terrain-wise and very narrow and sloping in parts so it is important to concentrate, which isn’t always easy when you’re fatigued. And there was a warm midday sun shining down with no discernible breeze. I took on another gel after about 4k and felt the benefits after a few minutes. After lap 2, you take a left to the castle and sprint the final few metres to the finish line, hands in the air!
Post Race Thoughts
The most memorable aspect of this race for me were the stewards, helpers and marshals, who could not have been friendlier or more supportive.
This was my first Olympic distance triathlon, and I was nervous as I had done the sprint plus in 2019 with very minimal swim training, and the swim was a disaster. This year was much better. I have also joined Galway Triathlon Club so having the support of other club members on the day was massive.
I am currently training for IRONMAN 70.3 Cork in Youghal (my home town) in August and have been training consistently since January, I’m delighted the training is paying off with some strong performances and more importantly I’m feeling very capable during the races themselves.
Thank you to everyone at Lough Cutra Triathlon and the Castle Race Series for an amazing day, and for somehow ensuring fantastic sunny weather which is far from guaranteed on the damp West coast of Ireland. I’m already looking forward to next year.