The 29th June 2013 was a big day in the racing calendar for triathletes all over the country. Hell of the West is renowned to be one of the toughest challenges on the Olympic Distance calendar. Tipp Tri club was well represented by participants in both individual and relay.
Tommy B, Martina, Denis C and I arrived in Kilkee at approximately 07.20hrs for sign on. Denis and myself couldn't resist travelling past registration to have a peep at the notorious Kilkee bay.
"My God" is all I can say.
We sat there, mouths open as we watched the waves crash off the rocks, spray travelling 20 to 30 feet in the air. We looked at each other and laughed (nervously). First thing that came to my mind was
'Ritchie you cute bastard making yourself unavailable'.
With sign on complete, goodie bad and the much sought after jacket ( or in Martina's case Jackets) collected we started to get ready. We met with Tony Delaney (fastest runner in Tipp Tri), Matt Crowe, Sean Bryan, Noel Ryan, Lar Cleary and Brian Berkery. The buzz around the start line/transition area was electric.
Denis C as usual had to visit every white ceramic facility in Kilkee prior to race commencing. He was like a crack head looking for a fix. To his surprise and our amusement the local WC wasn't up to his expected high standard although it did have a security person + dog at the door.
Race began at 10.30hrs, Denis C took the lead for the Tipp lads. As he entered the water he was met with a wave mid chest and knocked back on his arse. It was going to be a tough day out. Denis got on his way followed ten minutes later by Tommy, Noel, Sean, Matty, Lar and myself. The swim was seriously challenging, swells and waves and sheer volume of people added to the difficulty. We all survived and made our way to T1 to collect the bikes. The bike route consisted of a 45k route, a few hills, fabulous scenery and a strong head wind for the last 20k or so. Martina joined us for the cycle taking the timing chip from Sean Bryan. A seamless Transition is all it can be describedas. I'm legally gagged in relation to the transition between Swim and Bike for the hotly tipped Crowe/Delaney relay team. Let's just say they encountered a few problems. I don't know why they were later referred to as the Armstrong duo by other competitors. Lol...
After the bike we made our way through transition again, parked up the bikes and donned the running gear. Martina changed chip with Brian Berkery. The run started with a steady 2k climb, it then levelled out with smaller climbs until the turn around at 5k. The homeward journey was way faster for all competitors. The views on the run were out of this world, cliff side route was beautiful and most certainly aided in keeping the mind off any pain experienced by participants.
I'm delighted to report that all Tipp Tri entrants finished with respectable times all round. It was great to be present when Gavin Noble broke the course record (sub 2hrs). The crack was good and club spirit was evident throughout the day. I would urge those who didn't compete this year to set Hell of the West as a goal for next year but remember it has earned its name and won't let you down. The Limerick Tri Club have to be congratulated for organising the best event that I've participated in to date. Their professionalism was commented on by all participants that I spoke to after the event.