Home Town Race Preview – TriGrandPrix Kilkenny Triathlon

This coming weekend (Sat 27th July) is the home town triathlon, which has been running for the last 4 years and now officially referred to as the “TriGrandPrix Ireland, the Kilkenny Triathlon“. The event has grown to be one of Ireland’s largest triathlons, taking in over 1,400 racers in 2012, although looking closer to 1,000 this year. Although a fairly pricey event for non-National Series race, (€50 for a Sprint & €60 for Olympic!!!) it is always great to race where you live and get out in front of your friends and family. Fingers crossed the weather sorts itself out again for Sat and the Sun makes a reappearance.

10k Ray Kilkenny triathlon finish lineCrossing the line in 2011…Smile for the cameras…

SWIM (Sprint Course – 750metres)

The Swim course is a windy one, starting at the Library, taking racers under John’s Bridge, around by the RiverCourt Hotel and out at a tiny little boat slip. There is a walkway the whole way along and with the bridge right in the middle of the course there is some serious vantage points for spectators to watch the action. Book your seat there early 🙂 The current, usually downstream, is fairly negligible at the moment and word on the street is the water is fairly manky so best to swim fast! Once out of the water a whole new challenge emerges just to get you to your bike, with a long run including a steep set of large steps to conquer. Go all out here and you won’t be able to see straight when you get to your bike.

BIKE (Sprint Course – 24.5km)

The Bike course takes athletes out from the transition area within the castle and the first challenge is Blackquarry Hill, a nice little 200m kick in the road that goes straight up! The rest of the out and back course is an interesting ride with some tricky rises and super-fast sections. Tip is just to spin fast maintaining speed through the rises as they are short enough and drive the heavy gear everywhere else.

Unfortunately for some reason the bike turnaround point is at just over 12km. Not sure what the reason is here but this is a seriously big mess up. Maybe 1 km either side of the 20k could be understandable, but 4.5 is not on!! Knowing how many super-strong cyclists there will be taking part, this will offer them a huge advantage and the seconds and minutes they can pick up with the extra 4.5k will not be brought back on the run. Saying “Sure, it’s the same course for everyone” is not good enough. The Sprint distances are set at 750m, 20km and 5km for a reason…

RUN (Sprint Course – 5km)

The looped run course is a little beaut! In and around the Castle Park grounds for the first km and slip out the side gate onto Canal walk for the next 2k. This whole section is flat with down hill parts and completely tree covered before turning for the final 2k back to the Finish Line which is basically a long drag of a climb. I live for those last 2k! Some of those fast cyclists with their big heavy legs start to feel the burn, slow down and that’s where us little runners can start to pick them off one by one 🙂 And what a great finish line it is. Out through the Castle gates onto the Castle Parade which makes the perfect finish chute and great for spectators. Helps that it is right beside the Left Bank pub too 😀

10k ray Kilkenny Triathlon Club photoKilkenny Triathlon Club members – bunch of posers 😉 

Last year I finished in 01:19:16, over 13mins behind the winner Aaron O’Brien and 22nd overall. Give the improvements I’ve have had since then in each discipline (and assuming the same overall winning time) I will be aiming for a top 15 and as close to 1hr 14mins as possible. The run and bike should be around 4-5mins in total faster than 2012 but the swim will be slower given the very fast flow we had last year. Not sure which top dogs from around the country might race but with the choice of Olympic on the day who knows who will be racing what!

What a weekend in store for party-time after the triathlon! The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is playing in Kilkenny at Nowlan Park Saturday and Sunday night (I have my tickets for the Sunday night gig!!!) so the town will be absolutely hopping. Maybe Brucie will come “…down to the river” to watch us splash about Saturday morning 😉

Best of luck to everyone taking part on Saturday, especially to all those taking on their first ever triathlon experience with the SuperSprint race. Give it socks and enjoy every minute of it!

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