By Kate Hawney
What a way to start our summer holiday! A wee drive to Banty, Co Cork, getting lost on the way and pitching our tent the night prior. I slept well in the tent and got up before sunset to light the camp stove for my porridge. It was difficult to know what sort of weather was ahead for the day, but it was certainly very calm.
I arrived at the hotel to park and cycled down to transition about 2km away. The sun was splitting the stones, music was blaring with approx. 150 competitors on the old runway of Bantry airfield, the sea a stones throw from the transition area. The location was stunning. Ken was not too far from me in transition so it was nice to see a friendly Sligo Tri face before we started.
After a quick race brief, we walked in twos with 10 sec between each pair towards the water’s edge. It was definitely the calmest entry into a race I have ever experienced, truly wonderful. The water was a pleasant temperature and really calm as the weather was beautiful not a cloud to be seen. I exited the water after my swim around Bantry Bay just as calmly as I got in, a very enjoyable swim, a couple of gentle stings but nothing worrying. (Swim 35mins).
Swim to Bike transition was again really relaxed, so much space and sunshine! I had to give myself a little reminder of what I was doing and that I better get moving!! I mounted the bike. I did not pay too much attention to the two km back up onto the main road. The road was very undulating a memory that did not stay with me luckily until I was running back to the finish line – torture, but we will get to the torture later. I was loaded up with bite-sized spuds in my T-shirt and some brownie treats and a few gels for the run. The cycle was stunning. I munched my way around the coastline of the Mizen and Sheeps head peninsula. One big hill (which I actually got off my bike) and lots of other smaller hills I was glad to rack my bike and was really looking forward to the run. I felt hopeful that I’d given my run legs a good opportunity to display a steady run the few months prior. (Bike 3:14)
The Run – FE*K. Let me just point out that at registration I met the race director and had a chat with him and the fella behind me. It was all about THE RUN. Do you know what to expect? He even recommended that I drive it that evening. No, I had a tent to pitch and dinner to get – sure its a run with a few hills??
The undulating two km up to the main road which I had cycled – I wondered is this it, is this what they were referring to? Then BOOM….. we went off into a side lane and the torture began for a LONG time. I walked so much of the run. My heart rate was in Zone 3 walking– danger zone just walking for those whom zones mean little to. It was soo hot, how does one do a full Ironman in this heat never mind a half?! We had to carry our water due to Covid –perhaps a blessing so that I could continuously douse myself. The Sun was splitting, the road was constantly twisting back on its self trying to navigate the sharp and steep incline, it went on for eternity?! Got to the top, ambulance and water stop, some downhill and then the next hill. I’m not sure which was worse because, with this hill, it was all on show. I could see the horizon the road meandering with a gradual up and up and up and could see the competitors that were soo far away and almost at the top. I think you’re getting the sense of my suffering!! In fairness, I made lots of friends along the way as we shared our emotions and the insanity of it all whilst walking. It was comforting to know that I was not alone in the absurdity of the run. (Run 2:19)
I eventually made it to the finish line – no oranges, no nothing due to Covid. So I went straight for the sea to lie down in it, toasted and roasted. I arrived back to the campsite to John G. He’d had a really difficult day sweating in his camp chair, reading his book and preparing dinner for us.