Published 03/10/2012 | 10:21

A SPECTACULAR morning greeted tri-athletes in the Maharees on Saturday as competitors, who had travelled in their droves to West Kerry, lined out to compete in the 2012 Seven Frogs Triathlon.

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The sixth outing of the annual event welcomed triathletes of all standards amid glorious weather conditions as autumnal sunshine and a light breeze set the perfect scene.

Conceived by Dingle endurance swimmer Nuala Moore, this unique triathlon, with its equally unique name, sees seasoned competitors line out with triathletes of all levels.

Competitors lined out in the two distances offered on the day: the sprint, which included a 750 metre swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run and the Olympic discipline, which comprised of a 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

First home in the Olympic distance was Cork man John O'Connell in a time of two hours 11 minutes. The first Kerry man home in the distance was Tom B. O Connor, Ballyheigue in a time of two hours 17 minutes while the first local home was Castlegregory's Robert Bunn in two hours 24 minutes.

The first lady home in the Olympic distance was Val Vaughan from Cork with a time of two hours 31 minutes.

James Slowly from Cork was anything but what his name might suggest, winning the sprint in one hour and five minutes while the first local home was Garry Hall from Stradbally in one hour seven minutes. Barry Heasman added to the excellent times, making it home in one hour 13 minutes while the first lady home was West Cork's Frances Shanahan who matched Barry's time.

The relays were won by two local teams: team Reamda from Tralee and the Causeway Crusaders.

"The sprint was an amazing race, the swim was slightly shorter as the wind affected the conditions, but the atmosphere was amazing as 120 swimmers bunched and glided out from Maharees Pier like birds on the water," said race director Nuala Moore.

"The ethos of my event is very much one where the top end athlete can be proud of those who are starting out and those starting out can be inspired by those who are brilliant and, at the same time, be very proud of themselves. We can all race together."

The funds raised this year funds will be donated to Mallow Search & Rescue to which Nuala donated €5,000 last year.

"Our partnership with Mallow Search and Rescue is an old one; I have dived with John Wolfe for 20 years and what they do is in recovery of the missing is amazing," said Nuala.

"I have a very high standard of safety in the water from my swimming background and as a result we work well together. The Mallow unit changed the swim route twice on Saturday as conditions changed, always thinking of how best to allow the swimmer to swim but to manage the rescue cover."

"The weather was surreal, the crowds and atmosphere was brilliant but none of it would be possible without the support of the gardaí, the rescue services, the ambulance and locals, including Mrs Lynch, who allowed us to use her field for parking, and Murphys, who allowed 200 bikes in their garden," she added.

She also thanked Barry Packaging, Kingdom Fresh and Harbour House for the use of their front garden for the athletes to register.

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