IRELAND’S Ironman Dun Laoghaire 70.3 attracted Stratford Triathlon Club’s Emma Bexson and the gutsy athlete produced a superb performance to take plenty of amateur honours.
With the exception of the professionals, Bexson was fourth overall and first female athlete to finish who had completed the long/full course. She also won her age group in an excellent overall time of five hours, 47 minutes and 28 seconds.
The race featured a 1,900m swim from Sandycove, home to the famous Martello Tower, in the clear waters of the Irish Sea in Dublin Bay, before taking athletes on a spectacular and challenging 56-mile (90km) bike course.
The course travels through some of the most scenic areas in the region, including County Wicklow, home to the Wicklow Mountains National Park and its glacial lakes, rivers and abundant natural beauty.
Athletes took in stunning coastal views and weaved their way through the streets of the charming seaside town for the 13.1-mile (21.1km) run, before finishing with Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Bay as the backdrop.
Bexson said: “Making the climb to the finish line and completing the race was all the more rewarding after the tough conditions.
“I had a solid race with great preparation for the full Ironman Tenby in three weeks’ time which has been the main focus of my season. It was a crazy race with every type of weather you can imagine.”
It was a race fraught with controversy with tough conditions and a challenging environment. The sea mist rolled in and visibility was reduced to 10m on the 1,900m swim, making for an interesting race as the professionals and first 180 athletes raced the full distance.
However, after the first 180 started, the race was halted and deemed unsafe to race. The organisers let the first wave carry on while holding the others on the start line before the rest then swam a 950m shortened course instead of the full 1,900m.
Equally, the first 10km on the bike was in thick fog, making it difficult to see the road ahead. Then, as the triathletes climbed, the mist lifted and the sun shone. The bike course proved technical and hill climbing relentlessly into the Wicklow mountains followed before once again rain and mist descended to make the bike conditions challenging.
If the the bike was not hilly enough, the run itself was set to challenge with just over 1,000ft of climbing, although the run along the sea front and around the harbour had spectacular crowd support.
With thanks to Paul Hawkins for the report.