Wicklow Tri holds its first Junior Triathlon: eye witness report by your local correspondent (press ganged by WTC junior committee to get copy t press before next committee meeting tonight)
Day Five Month May Year Twenty Thirteen.
The sun streams down on transition at the back of Shoreline Greystones where twenty five junior athletes stretch on tiptoe to take in the race briefing from Race Director Conor.
If they are nervous you wouldn’t think it, arms crossed, brows furrowed, their heads turning towards the outstretched fingers, eyes drinking direction. The pool, transition, the box, the helmet, the fence, the traffic lights, the bikes racked across the road: words float over the thin air as heads snap back again for the imagining. The stretch up to Tilley’s Track, the cycle path weaving its languid way around the teeth of the Plastics Factory, the lung-busting climb up to the main cycle track, then Charlesland Appartments and the drag up to Jackie Skelleys and the track. The Track. Worse than Twilight. In the future. Somewhere off. Foreign. To be known and tasted. Only not now. Not yet. For now is the pool. Beyond Conor’s shoulder the cloudless sky merges and the long cold lanes of ice blue await.
Do our 25 Junior Athletes care? They shrug, smile, frown. This is a time of focus, a day for champions, a time to be placed in the sun. Things can go right or wrong in a race. Somehow this is understood. Not everyone may finish. Things can go very wrong. Stomach, nerves, mechanical failure. This is understood. For this is Triathlon.
It is starting. Into the pool area they move. First the warm up under Caoimhe’s watchful eye. Up and down and up and down. Nervous laughs. Water in goggles. The noise quality is different in here from outside but it will be outside soon. This could be training. Only it isn’t. Beyond the glass the marshals huddle in transition, press noses to the glass. Is it time? Is it time?
Conor Fitz has his ear to the phone and Caoimhe calls the first athletes into the pool. Two 7-8 year olds, arms stretched, goggles switched, race face on. There is a pause. Conor is talking. Caoimhe calls it. They are off.
The 7-8 year olds are streaming out of transition, helmets glued on. Over the fence, up the ramp with Mick. Over the bollard. Walk to the traffic lights with Joe. Marshalled to the centre. Shane pushes them across where Dave gathers them. The bicycles shoot up the track. Back poolside, the 9-11 year olds wait for the last of Wave 1, their backs to the glass, the 12-14 year olds more interested now, time approaching, the sun suddenly hotter against their backs.
Wave 1 have made it straight up the apartment hill. There were moments when it didn’t look likely but now they are descending into the Jackie Skelley Car Park, driving their bikes into the Marshalls and stepping down for the one lap of the track. They are running. They are walking. They are moving forward. Towards the finish line. Towards the moment. They are through. Lisa calls the time and Jenny dispatches the medals. Eva takes first followed by Georgia and then Hugh holds Lily and Isabelle off. Alannah, Jack, Lily, Siobhan and Alexandra all stream through into the Lap of the Gods. Welcome to Wicklow Tri. For you are a Triathlete now.
Wave 2 is streaming out of transition. Saoirse out front. Four laps of the pool. Not easy. But the shorts and shirts and race laces are moving and the helmet is snapping and they are gone! The marshalls crouch in preparation. Over the fence up the hll across the road to the track. Tilley’s track looms. Wave Three move into position.
Wave 2 have descended on the Track. Two laps. Saoirse has been out in front since the pool. Molly and Sean exchange places on the bike and after they stream across the line there is Ruairi, Jenny, Megan and Caoimhe. Two odd kilometres away Wave Three are out and on the bike. Zofja outstanding in the pool holds off Chris.
Wave 2 are finished. They are through they too sip nectar in the shadow of the gods. Wave 3, their 8 lengths of the pool a recent shadow are drawing up the drag, 2 laps of Tilly’s T and fall into the basin of the Track and into their 8 laps. Chris and Zophia are battling it out at the front. No one is sure how many laps they are doing, it seems endless. Now there is Arthur. Now Rebecca. Is that 2 laps or 3? Now Jenn and Aoife. Five? Six? Donnchadh is smiling. It’s Seven. One more lap.
It’s all over. Tired bodies crashing on the green grass. Marshalls, parents and Triathletes milling around, all a little stunned. More than one photo finish. Sun and chocolate. Photos and smiles. A happy gang of triathletes clutching medals and learning that it’s not really about winning or breaking records, but about doing it.
Car park empties and a sunny Sunday beckons.
Congrats to Conor, Lisa, Caoimhe, the Race Committee and all the Marshalls who made the first junior Tri Section such a success.
I found the swim ok until the last lap and then I got really tired . I left the pool third the cycle was great I loved it When I was coming out of Tilley’s track I saw Jenny and Megan a little behind me and Sean passed me out on the cycle. I wasn’t having that so I past him right back and then we were neck in neck then I speeded up going up hill and I saw Saoirse ahead. At the track it was hard because we were all so tired, I had to stop for a bit but I think nearly everyone walked a bit in the orange group. Then I started running again and saw Saoirse crossing the line . Then I crossed the line and was happy.
I saw Chris and Zofja starting their run eight laps that’s mad! It was a great race and Chris just won. My sister Lily had finished already in the yellow group and was busy eating chocolate.
I think everyone did really well and now we’re all tri-athletes!!!