My wife Orla had decided on that if she was going to camp in the beautiful west of Ireland only to get woken up in the middle of the night she may as well race and Kim and Mona and all at Gaelforce Events and Killary Adventure Company very kindly gave us both race entries at the last minute. Now all we had to do was get ready.

Ready we got and soon enough the bikes were in Delphi, the dinner was in us and we were in the tent in Westport House. After the bus to Glassilaun Beach I headed to the start line with a wifie for the chat, as opposed to the Paul Mahon formguide chat of previous years. I would hear his dulcet tones running the rule over the likely competition for the benefit of Dessie and Jerry though. My own form was unknown but the course wasn’t, I know it well at this stage.

The start came round quick enough and the beach erupted into a frenzy to get to tarmac. It was hilarious. I was about 50th to the road. Barry Minnock was beside me but within 2.5km I could see his distinctive Athlone ¾ Marathon red tee-shirt up with two other early leaders. I couldn’t see Dessie and Jerry was running well in a group of 5 about a minute and a half clear of me. This was taking the slow start technique to excessive levels and over the remainder of the run I tried to minimise losses. Barry and the two lads were 4 minutes ahead at the kayak, Jerry and his pals about 80 seconds ahead. The kayaks were a bit of a lottery this year and I was firmly directed into a double after arriving in about 16th. Eventually another lad came and we splashed badly across the fjord. Eanna Cunnane had a stormer across the water. Unfortunately for Jerry in particular even a badly steered double is quicker than his single and we reached the far side at much the same time.

Into the Delphi bike transition in about 8th and a quick change got me out on the road in a good group of 5 lads, including Jerry, Paul Tierney and Muckno’s Kieran Cosgrove. I went at the bottle like a suckling calf and tried some of Orla’s lovely fruitcake. I had high hopes for this group working well together but the best biker in the group Kieran exploded with cramp and we didn’t work well together after that. We caught Barry Cronin and then Peter Cromie and then the headwind caught us. Barry Cronin was loving it, he is racing very well this year and was giving it socks off the front of the group occasionally. Peter was the standard issue cute hoor who had looking back and nearly waiting for us to catch him and Paul, myself and Jerry just battled on in the main. I was trying to get one half of the fruitcake from my mouth to my belly but couldn’t get it down. I offered the other half to Jerry but he didn’t want it either so I threw it at a passing sheepie. Sorry Orla and lucky sheep! The tailwind along the Shreffries was mighty but sadly it becomes a headwind on the approach road to Croagh Patrick just as the tarmac runs out and the bogroad begins.

The rough surface took it’s toll and after a while there was just Peter, Jerry and myself left catching the red teeshirt of Barry Minnock. The 4 of us hit transition at the base of Croagh Patrick within 25 seconds of each other. Barry had a slight lead on me and ditto back to Peter and then Jerry. There were two other lads visible ahead so I hoped Barry was in 3rd place but he told me there were three ahead. As I could only see two this meant the leader was well clear. Nothing I could do about it so on with the pain and up the hill we toiled. This toiling carried on for what seemed like an aeon and I caught the other two but Jerry O’Sullivan had had a strong climb and passed me to reach the top in 2nd. Dessie Duffy and the winning of the race had sailed past serenely with a smile a few minutes earlier on his descent.

I had a poor enough descent again this year with 11 minutes well down on the 8  minute standard of Tim “the myth” O’Donohue but thankfully caught Jerry and managed to get to transition a few seconds ahead. Down the Skelp with more care than usual as with no Padraig Marrey to dice with I felt I could stay clear of Jerry on the bike. As it happens Jerry was finishing very strongly and in the finish I lucky to see the end when I did as Jerry was chasing me down with every step on the final 2km run. I was seven minutes down on a worthy winner in Dessie but only twelve  seconds ahead of a strong Jerry it had been a class race. Well done to Moira, Emma, Paula and of course the wonderfully amazing Orla McEvoy who had a great race to finish 4th in wave one. Maybe she’ll be back to get on that podium!

Thanks as always to all at Killary for a fantastic race and to the locals for putting up with our disruption for one day a year.