'Harbourman' triathlon to be ultimate summer challenge
Up to 600 expected to enter race as it hosts National Championship for Olympic distance
The Harbourman race run by Wicklow Triathlon Club has been chosen to host the National Championship for an Olympic-distance Triathlon this summer.
This year's race on Sunday, July 8, will be the National Championship standard distance race as well as a National Series race. Registration to compete in the event opens this Friday.
Paul O'Connor of Wicklow Triathlon Club said: 'It's a huge deal for the club this will be the biggest Olympic distance triathlon to take place in Ireland all year. We got over 300 at last year's event but we would be expecting close to 600 or so participants in July. It's also a great way of putting Wicklow on the map as there will be competitors from all over Ireland taking part.'
The Harbourman Race only started in 2016. This year's event will consist of an Olympic-distance race, comprising of a 1500m open-water swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run.
'We ran the race twice before and it has been growing in popularity ever since,' said Paul. 'It's a massive deal to get this sort of recognition. It usually takes place in Kilkee, Phoenix Park or Mullingar so we were delighted to see the Harbourman selected [for the olympic distantce championship], especially as it has only been taking place since 2016.'
Members of Wicklow Triathlon Club have been heartened by the level of support the Harbourman has received since it started.
'It has made a big impact and we are all delighted with the reaction,' said Paul.
'We used to run the Beast of the East in Lough Dan for seven or eight years but it was very costly and difficult to organise. The traffic up in Roundwood can be quite bad and it's harder to get to as well.
'The terrain was also very tough. I loved it but it meant we only attracted a certain amount of people.
'Once the completed motorway opened, we had the old N11 between the Beehive and Jack Whites to work with. Anyone who has participated before will tell you that the best road surface they ran on all year was the Harbourman.'
The 40km cycle is an out-and-back route and will start up the Port Road in Wicklow away from the harbour and out onto the road to Rathnew. It will then take a left up a short but sharp hill and onto a road that will steadily bring riders up to The Beehive, continuing along the old N11 road south.
The 10km run will see competitors run out the Port Road for over 2km before turning the way they came, going past the Leitrim pub and over the bridge onto the South Quay. The route continues all the way down to the lighthouse at the end, up towards Black Castle. Participants will then run down Quarantine Hill and back onto the South Quays as far as the junction with Bridge Street.
The swim will consist of two-750m laps around Wicklow Harbour.
Interest in triathlon events has grown steadily in recent years, with Wicklow Triathlon Club expanding its membership year-by-year.
'We have 250 members at the moment but we are growing all the time. I ran my first race in 2005 and have been running races ever since.
'Once it gets in your blood, you can't shake it off. Plus Wicklow has everything you need to train in, with the sea, forests and mountains on our doorstep,' said Paul.