STRONG winds and a four-foot swell resulted in The Kerryhead Triathlon being rerouted in the interests of safety on Saturday afternoon.
The last minute changes didn't detract from an event that raises funds for Enable Ireland and traverses in one of Kerry's finest headlands. The event had been due to start with a 750m swim in Ballyheigue Bay but by 12.30pm the winds had risen to a light gale. While the buoys had been in place for the swim, inshore rescue and kayakers checked out the conditions and eventually made the right call to axe the swim section.
Replaced by a 2km loop beach run, competitors were then faced with a 20km cycle around Kerry Head into the stiff breeze, followed by another looped beach run of 5km before finishing on the beach.
At the first transition Cornelius Marshall held a slight lead over local man Tom Brendan O'Connor with Shane Geary and Thomas McCarthy close behind. O'Connor was the first back from the cycle having completed the testing road route in just over 37 minutes leading into the final leg.
The 5km beach run was a run of two halves - an outward run directly into the strong breeze and a return with the wind on the competitors' backs. Marshall put in an exceptional final leg and he eventually finished first in an overall winning time of 1hr 4m 47s, closely followed by O'Connor and Geary.
Angie O'Sullivan was the female winner ahead of rivals Helen O'Leary and Caroline Murphy.
A free barbecue was held afterwards in Kirby's Bar where prizegiving took place.
"With everything set up and ready to go we had to reconsider the swim part of the Triathlon as the four foot swell, allied with the south west gale, was causing a lot of chop and conditions appeared to be worsening," organisers stated afterwards.
"It was disappointing for sure but safety has to come first and the correct decision was made for the sake of all competitors."
The organising committee has thanked all involved including marshals and kayakers, Dr Jerry Quill, Red Cross, Sea Rescue, Triathlon Ireland, gardaí, Kirby's Bar, DJ Ray, Enable Ireland, Kerryhead/Ballyheigue Family Resource Centre and Surf 'n Sail.