THE IDYLLIC SETTING of Valentia Island, Co. Kerry proved the perfect location on Saturday when the Kinetica Sprint Distance National Championships took place in perfect conditions.
Almost 600 competitors entered chilly waters facing a 750 metre swim from the mainland to Valentia to start the race.
Former Irish swimmer Brian Harris set a blistering pace and was first out of the water in 8mins 38secs with a clear lead.
The next stage, however, suited the cyclists as the first five kilometres took the athletes up a steep hill and the strongest on the bike broke away from the pack. European age group champion Mark Nolan was able to make up for his poor swim and take the lead into T2. He then set about extending it with the fastest run of the day at 16 minutes 32 seconds on a tough course consisting of a two and a half kilometre run up the same steep hill as the cycle.
Behind Nolan there was a three-way battle for the final podium places. Stephen Early took second place, outrunning ex-professional triathlete Trevor Woods who finished third just ahead of South Africa’s Bjorn Ludick.
In the women’s race, Katie Cooke of West Cork Tri Club was dominant throughout the race and maintained the 1min 20sec advantage she built up out of T2. Aoife Lynch failed to narrow the gap over the run and finished in second, followed by Ellen Murphy in third.
On the international scene, Olympic hopeful Gavin Noble will rest a little easier after results favoured him at the ITU World Triathlon Series in San Diego over the weekend.
Noble had a cushion of eight places with two points scoring races remaining, but without a start in either race he wasn’t able to compete to defend his Olympic ranking and could only watch on in hope. Events went his way however, as Austria’s Andreas Giglmayr was forced to pull out on the run, while Davide Uccellari of Italy finished in 58th position, so neither gained enough points to leapfrog Noble in the international rankings.
Noble currently sits 44th and will be hoping he can secure a start for the ITU World Triathlon Series race in Madrid on the 27th of May cement his slot for London.