Now in its 11th year, this is one of the most popular Triathlons in Ireland, this year selling out all 500 places in 44 minutes. 13 members of TUNA travelled to Camlough to test themselves against the notoriously aggressive swim and the killer hills of the bike and run sections.

As is customary for race day in Camlough, the sun broke through the clouds just as the first of three waves of swimmers were getting into the water, although the strong winds made the water a bit choppy for the competitors. There is always a bit of boisterousness in the battle to the first buoy in Camlough, and this year was no exception. Niall Stewart commented, “I think the swim was even more brutal than last year, even with less people in each wave!” Regardless, the Portadown man went on to have a great swim time of 16 mins.  Other TUNAs were in agreement about the conditions, with Paul Skelly losing his Garmin watch in the melee. Hope it turns up for you, Paul! He composed himself well after this loss, and went on to finish in an excellent time of 1.13.34. The fastest TUNA in the water was Fiona Murphy, with an amazing time of 11.14. She kept the momentum going, and went on to finish strongly in 1.17.52. The only lady to represent the TUNA club on the day played down her performance, saying, “I never checked if my chain was on when I left my bike in, so I had to get off and start again!” Obviously this didn’t hold her back very long or affect her positive mental attitude on the day.

The bike course provides a killer hill at the beginning, followed by a very technical descent and a few more hills before the finish. The strong wind also added an extra level of difficulty to the mix. Fastest TUNA bike split of the day went to Philip Castles, with a time of 28.19, which was faster than some of those in the top 10 overall. The Waringstown man went on to finish in 30th place in the men’s race in a time of 1.04.23. Phil said, “I was a bit disappointed in my cycle – I think I would have needed to have a practice run on the course as it is so technical. But I really enjoyed the swim!”  Thankfully all the TUNAs got round the bike course safely, and almost all were ready to head out on the run. Unfortunately Steven Murphy could not join them for this part. “I have terrible problems with my Achilles, but I didn’t want to miss out on the buzz of Camlough, so I decided to do the swim and the bike anyway.” It was great to see this triathlon stalwart out on the course, and he did himself proud with swim and bike times of 18.56 and 42.42 respectively.

The run really tests the mettle of the already tired competitors, with 2 laps of a seriously steep hill to contend with. Everyone kept their heads up and faced the challenge with strength. A notable mention goes to Craig Harrison, who completed his first open water triathlon at Camlough. Craig, from Lurgan, commented, “I was struggling with a bad stitch on the first lap of the run, but got going a bit better for the second lap.” Craig finished the run in a speedy 21.37, with an overall finish of 1.12.38. There was also a fantastic achievement by Shane O’ Hanlon, who managed to knock 2 minutes off his time from last year, shaving time off both his swim and his run. “I was really surprised to see my time when I finished. I’m delighted.” Chris O’ Carroll also had an excellent run, knocking almost a minute off his time from last year for that section. Obviously the Tuesday night run sessions are working their magic!

There was a great TUNA battle between Sam Uprichard and Jonathan Walker for the honour of 2nd and 3rd TUNA home. As they were in different waves, they were not racing side by side, which would have made it all the more interesting! In the end, it came down to a difference of 30 seconds. Jonathan’s swim gave him a 10 second advantage, which Sam quickly neutralised with a speedy transition onto the bike. Sam continued to put time into Johnny on the bike, with a 1.47 difference in the splits. However, a faster T2 and run afforded Johnny the 2nd place. Sam commented, “I was happy with the race today, but there is still room for improvement.” Seeing as he improved by 7 mins on last year’s time, we expect great things from the Lurgan man at Crooked Lake 2015!

Other TUNAs also gave a good account of themselves on the day, including Alfie Donnelly, who was racing with a damaged calf after a recent climbing accident. Despite this setback, Alfie completed the course in 1.39, with a smile on his face. “I wouldn’t miss it. The craic is always great at Camlough and I had been looking forward to the race for ages.” Long standing TUNA members Richard Patterson and David Mc Cready also had good races on the day, with finish times of 1.17.47, and 1.25.02 respectively.

TUNA results in full:

Philip Castles                      1.04.23

Jonathan Walker              1.11.13

Sam Uprichard                  1.11.43

Craig Harrison                    1.12.38

Paul Skelly                           1.13.34

Richard Patterson            1.17.47

Fiona Murphy                    1.17.52

Niall Stewart                      1.22.45

David Mc Cready              1.25.02

Shane O’ Hanlon              1.26.32

Chris O’ Carroll                  1.27.02

Alfie Donnelly                    1.39.00

 

Stephen Mc Conaghy and Seamus Casey continue to make excellent progress on their Ironman training for September in Mallorca.

With beautiful weather and surroundings at Lough Gartan, the scene was set for perfect swimming conditions. Stephen demonstrated that all his hard work in the pool over the winter had paid off, with an excellent swim time of 13.11. Swimming is not Seamus’ favourite discipline, but he got through the swim in 24.55 and was raring to go for the bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lurgan lads faced a tough bike section; straight into a climb on the way out transition. They took on the challenging course in style, quickly negotiating the hilly and technical route. Stephen set a great time on the bike of 32.45, which was as fast as some of those in the top 10 on the day. Seamus had no difficulty in reeling in a large number of rivals as he powered through on the bike section, covering the 20k in 37.51.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the run, more hills were waiting for the TUNAs. A two lap run allowed them to get into their stride on the second lap. Seamus flew through the transition in both sections. He commented, “The hill at the start of the run made it hard to get going, but by the second lap I was ready for it!” It was a great performance by both in that heat and with a challenging course – 1.11.38 for Stephen and 1.29.41 for Seamus. Stephen even earned himself a PB by with seconds to spare for the sprint distance. “I had a good swim and good bike times struggled with the first lap of the run – which was off the bike and straight into a killer climb!” Well done lads – keep up the good work!

 

Tri Athy is advertised as Ireland’s fastest triathlon due to the river swim and flat courses, and attracted almost 2000 entries over the four distances of races offered. TUNA’s Jason Thompson made the journey to complete the Olympic Distance race.  The conditions were hot on the day, which always makes the going a little harder, but it didn’t seem to slow Jason down much!

A speedy swim time of 24.14 set him up well for the bike course, which he powered through in 1.08.10. After quickly negotiating his way through transition, Jason went on to post an excellent run time of 47.01 for the 10k, with an overall time of 2.22.39. Jason commented, “It was a great race with top class organisation. The atmosphere was superb and I enjoyed every minute of it!”

 

Phil Castles took the journey to Swalinbar, Co Cavan on 31st May for the James MacManus Memorial Triathlon, now in its second year. With well over 100 entries, this well organised race honours a former triathlon club mate of Cuilcagh Tri Club who lost his battle with cancer.

Phil came prepared, as usual, with a smile for all and the promise of pain to be dished out to all who threaten the podium positions. After battling through the ranks in the swim, Phil went on to post the fastest bike split of the day with a time of 31.45, which is phenomenal, despite the regularity of his dominance on the bike. Phil completed the race in the superb time of 1.05.02 and in 5th place overall, after a closely contested run between himself and the 4th placed competitor. “It was a great race and the other lads pushed me hard on the bike. It was tough seeing them break away a bit on the run, but I’m delighted with the result!” It looks like he will have to travel further afield for his reputation not to precede him in the future!

Video evidence can be seen here!

One of the earliest triathlons of the season took place in Limavady on Saturday 24th of May, and TUNA was well represented by members old and new, including some who undertook their first sprint distance triathlon.

The party was joined by our club chairman, Dywer O’Hagan, who made his long awaited return to racing after recovering from injury. Dwyer set himself the target of finishing below 1 hr 30, and achieved the goal with 39 seconds to spare! “It was great to get back into it, and I was delighted to see I finished within the hour and a half target. During the run I thought it would never happen!” Another TUNA who made a welcome return to the triathlon scene was Fiona Murphy, who proved her class in the swim with a lightning quick time of 11.21. Fiona also kept up a good pace in the bike and run, and finished in an excellent time of 1.21.17.

Of the new members, Jason Thompson is no stranger to triathlons. Jason posted a fantastic time for his race with 1.13.05 on the clock overall, and was very speedy through the transition zones. Jason said, “The pool swim can be hard to judge, and being in a lane with other people to negotiate can be tricky, but it was a good start to the season overall, and good to race along with club mates.”

Honours of the day must go to Craig Harrison and Dianne Keys, both completing their first full triathlons. Lurgan man Craig joined the club last winter after making the leap from a rugby background. With his athleticism and high fitness level, we knew he would go far, and he has been working hard on his swim technique in Thursday night sessions. This paid off in his first full triathlon, as he completed the swim comfortably in a great time of 16.25. Craig took the bike and the run at a blistering pace, and finished in a great time of 1.15.24. Craig commented, “I didn’t talk about the triathlon very much before the race, as I was a bit nervous about the swim, but now I can’t wait for the next one!”

Dianne Keys also came to us as a well established athlete from an endurance running background, but keen to take on a new challenge, including overcoming some trepidation about swimming. Dianne had previously cut her triathlon teeth at a try a tri event, and was keen to move up to sprint distance. With the support of her club mates, she powered across the line in 1 hr 31 mins. “I found the swim to be a bit of a scary experience, but I got through it and I am so glad to have finished my first sprint triathlon!”, said Dianne. With May now a distant memory, the triathlon season has now truly begun, and TUNA will be well represented across all areas, distances and abilities, which is great to see.

 

TUNA Triathlon member, and Banbridge man Philip Mc Donald took on the Coast to Coast Challenge, advertised as “316km of the best cycling, paddling and running terrain Ireland has to offer.”

On day one Phil set off on a route which covered 152km, running 5km on sandy beaches, cycling 107 km along country roads and paddling 26.5 km along one of the longest sections of inland waterway in Ireland before finishing at the shores of Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh. Phil took the run and bike sections in his stride, and arrived ready to power himself by kayak all the way to Lough Erne. Despite the cold, the wind and the choppy water, Phil overcame this challenge and set to resting up for the arduous day ahead on Sunday. “The blood was running out of my hands from the blisters, and my forearms looked like Popeye’s by the end of it, but I did it. It was all mind over matter.” Phil truly has an unbreakable spirit!

 

 

 

 

At the break of dawn on day two he set off on a cycling and running challenge totalling just over 157km. More gruelling cycling lay ahead before Phil set off on the final off road section of 35km across the Mourne Mountains from Kilbroney Park. Phil flew along on the bike, and was raring to go for the 35k run, including an ascent of Slieve Donard, before the finish in Newcastle. Phil put a great deal of distance between himself and his pursuers over the Mourne trail, before stopping to assist others along the way at Slieve Donard, sharing his limited supplies with other competitors. With the muscle fatigue building, he again depended on his mental toughness to get him off the mountain, before putting on a big smile for his supporters at the finish line in Newcastle.

Reflecting on the fact that he had taken part in one of the toughest multi-sport events in Europe, Phil said, “I would recommend it to anyone – it was brutal but worth it! I couldn’t have done it without the support of my Tuna clubmates.”


 

Mallorca

On 10th May 2014 3 TUNAs set out to complete the race they had been training hard for all winter. Waringstown man Phil Castles is no stranger to the longer distances by now, but for Sam Uprichard and  Dungannon’s Alfie Donnelly  it was their first attempt at the half iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).

With temperatures of up to 30 degrees and a long hard climb on the bike section, it was no easy task.  The swim was calm and Phil set the pace with a swim time of 30.53, followed two minutes later by Sam at 32.24, showing the great improvements the Lurgan native has made in his swim.  Alfie completed the swim in a great time of 49.18.

On the bike, Phil tore up the hilly and technical course with a time of just under 2hrs 30 mins.  Sam wasn’t far behind, completing the course in 2 hrs 50.  Alfie also set an impressive time of 3.39 for his first 70.3 bike split. “The bike was the part I was worried about, but I really enjoyed the downhills!”

Finally, it was only the run to do – a half marathon in scorching heat! The three guys took full advantage of the well stocked aid stations, and flew round the flat course, with very little difference in the run splits for Sam and Phil, with 1.42.09 and 1.41.54 respectively. Sam commented, “I was really pleased with my run – although the heat was tough, all the Tues night training sessions paid off!” Alfie covered the 13.1 miles in a very respectable time of 2.40, given the heat and the challenging bike course before.

The final times worked out at 4.51.37 for Phil, 5.14.01  for Sam, and 7.25.18 for Alfie. Great achievements all round, and a few well deserved beers were had at the finish line!

 

Sportsman Duathlon 070414

 

Sportsman’s stalwarts Philip Castles, Craig Harrison and Sam Upritchard turned out once again for this popular and challenging duathlon to see if they could continue to shave time off their course records, as they did in the previous race.

Philip continued to impress, posting his fastest time on the course to date, of 51.21. The Waringstown man had the fastest bike split of the day, and combined with excellent running he was on the podium once again, with a well deserved 2nd place overall.

Craig and Sam also had outstanding races, maintaining the speed and skill that they demonstrated in the previous outing. Both finished under the hour mark, with times of 57.22 and 59.51 respectively. Craig has exploded on to the duathlon scene this season, and great things are ahead! Sam will soon be off to Mallorca from his native Lurgan to complete the Ironman 70.3 with a number of his clubmates, including Phil. Both seem to be making excellent preparations for the event.

Thoughts now turn to the beginning of the Triathlon season, with loads of TUNAs abuzz about entering Crooked Lake this week, and the Mallorca trip only weeks away! Hope preparations are going well.  Everyone looking forward to getting those wetsuits on?

 

The photo was taken at the Peatlands Duathlon and shows from left to right: Craig Harrison, Earlath Hendron, Philip Castles, Joe Hendron, Alfie Donnelly, Phillip McDonald and Seamus Casey.

Continuing with successes in January, the TUNA triathlon club were very active over the last few weeks. An old club favourite, the Setanta Sportsman Duathlon series held in Ravensdale Co Louth got underway on the 9th of Febuary. This course consisted of a 2 mile run followed by an 2 lap, 11 mile cycle,  finishing with another loop of the same 2 mile run course.  Yet again members of our local triathlon club TUNA were there to demonstrate their sporting prowess. Seamus Casey and Alfie Donelly both got their seasons underway and posted respectable times of  01:07:02 and 01:17:05 respectively, while Craig Harrison continues his season with a fantastic time of 01:00:26 just missing the hour mark. Phillip McDonald and Sam Uprichard battled for bragging rights, with the competitors finishing in a dramatic sprint finish  01:01:45 with Phillip finishing a mere second ahead of his clubmate. “He is a great man to train with”, said Philip, “but when you get the race head on all that matters is the finish line and we both were going hell-for-leather for it!” No doubt this blossoming rivalry will continue well into the season.  Yet again, Philip Castles established his club dominance posting 00:52:19, a time good enough for 3rd overall. “I posted the fasted bike split of the day but they had me on the run. But worst of all I lost time getting my shoes on! It just goes to show you can’t take anything for granted in this sport.”

The action didn’t stop there,  on the 16th the club went to the first of the Lisburn Tri Club’s duathlon series. The’ two Phils’, Sam, ‘Seamey’, and Alfie were joined this time by Niall Stewart and Shane O’Hanlon  both making their season debut. This event, held a Royal Down racecourse, consisted of a similar 2mile run 10mile bike 2mile run course and promised to be another great day out. The weather did not feature thankfully and the race got off to a great start. The TUNAs all continued to impress with Phil Castles coming in 4th.

The photo was taken at the Peatlands Duathlon and shows from left to right: Craig Harrison, Earlath Hendron, Philip Castles, Joe Hendron, Alfie Donnelly, Phillip McDonald and Seamus Casey.

Finally on the 22nd of February, the Peatlands Duathlon series, organised by Tri Limits got underway and yet again, club favorites, the ‘two Phils’, Craig, Alfie and Seamus were there although this time they were joined by father son team, Joe and Iarlaith Hendron. Yet again ‘Big Phil’ claimed another podium, coming in second overall. Phillip McDonald and Seamus Casey came in under the hour posting two blistering run splits. Meanwhile, the father and son both posted impressive times of 1:14 and 1:12 respectively. That means it is 1-0 the young lad. We are looking forward to seeing if Joe will let that stand. In all it has been an action packed month and a great start to the season overall. Why not give a one of our sessions a try? Two good ones are the running session at Craigavon lakes at 7:30 on Tuesdays or the swim session at Cascades in Portadown at 8:30pm on Thursdays.

 

 

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