What a day! Our race was a major success and similar to last year after our debut race we have been inundated with amazing feedback since Saturday afternoon.
It will no doubt be a permanent fixture on the triathlon calendar for many years to come and we already cannot wait for Sheephaven Half 2020.
Yes, a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes by our main and race committees in preparation for this huge race, but it’s repeatedly said a successful race cannot be run without the support of the whole club and that is so true.
To all members and family and friends who helped out in any way in the run-up to Saturday and to all club competitors who put on hi-viz and gave a helping hand after talking part- THANK YOU.
We really do have the best club members and you all are the foundation on how we can run such successful races. We are also overwhelmed with the support from the communities of Downings and the surrounding areas.
On behalf of everyone at Sheephaven Half and Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club we would like to extend a very special thank you to the local communities of Downings and the surrounding areas.
From volunteering to marshal, to being extra vigilant and cautious on the roads, to feeding and cooling competitors and cheering everyone on you all embraced our race to the max!
Without your cooperation, our race would not be possible-Take a bow Downings!
For the second year on the trot Downings and Donegal turned on the charm and was at its very best on Saturday- calm seas, zero wind and sun made for perfect conditions for race day and boy what a day it was!
Our 2019 winner and newly crowned National Champion Chris Mintern led the men’s race from the off with a superb swim of 27:21.
Chris went onto keep that margin on the bike course with a very impressive 2:20:06 bike leg- the quickest of the day – 33 seconds faster than eventual 2nd place Eoin Lyons.
In the half marathon run, Mintern held on despite Eoin putting in a huge effort despite the increasing temperatures, crossing the line to take his first national title with just 19 seconds to spare in 4:10:59.
Speaking after the race Mintern said “That’s probably the nicest race I’ve ever done, people were unreal. You go anywhere in Europe racing 70.3s and you find the nicest race in Donegal.”
Third place in the men’s race went to Michael McCarron who finished in 4:21:04.
There was a little more to spare in the women’s race. Laura Wylie, last year’s Sheephaven winner, was first out of the water – more than three minutes ahead of the next quickest woman and eventual winner Hilary Hughes had quite a bit to make up on the bike – but she did just that- with a superb 2:2820 bike split – a huge 14minutes ahead of her nearest competitor.
Hilary didn’t let up on the half marathon and crossed the line to win her first national title in a fantastic 4:43:1.
Defending champion, Heather Foley had a superb run but it wasn’t enough to chase down Hilary and finished in 2nd place crossing the line in 4:52:2. Maeve Maher-McWilliams put in a huge effort on the half marathon course and passed Laura Wylie to take 3rd place on the podium in a time of 4:55:5.
The winning relay team- Team Rocks- (4:48:2) was made up of 3 North West Triathlon Club members with James Divin stealing the show with a spectacular wheelchair split of 1:28:27 for the half marathon course.
The 24/7 Race
Onto our club members and this PRO found it hard to know where to begin!
Peter O’Donnell was the first club member home to the finish line at Downings Bay Hotel on Saturday- and in an incredibly impressive 9th place overall in a hugely competitive field of competitors. Peter was in 125th position heading out onto the bike course but a 2:26:40 bike split ensured he was returned to T2 in 15th position. Peter saved his most impressive split until last however, running a 1:23:29 half marathon in very sunny conditions.
This was the 5th fastest run of the day ensuring he finished in 4:33:1, 4th in his very competitive M30-34 age category.
Next up was Shane McNulty, 25th overall and superb finish time of 4:47:2 from the Finn Valley man. Shane exited the swim after 38:28 and biked the 90km course in 2:33:29 before finishing very strongly with a 1:32:37 half marathon. Jason King didn’t hang about either and looked very strong coming into T2 after a 2:38:35 bike split. He put in a solid run of 1:38:46 to finish in a brilliant overall time of 5:01:4.
Next club man home was the ever impressive John Connaghan and the new M55-59 National Middle Distance champion. John had a fantastic race with a strong 37:55 setting him up well. John then went onto bike 2:41:24 before running 1:44:10 to cross the line 1st in his age category in a superb 5:05:5.
Just 4 minutes later Shaun McDevitt crossed the line in after a superb race of clocking a superb 5:09:03 for the 70.3 course, his impressive bike split of 2:35:40 showing that the long Winter miles and his recent Ultra race paid off. Matthew McKinley has always been an impressive cyclist and after completing our Try a Tri last year and Sheephaven as part of his team, going solo on this event was always his aim.
Not a fan of the swim leg Matthew has put in lots of work to this area and he exited the swim delighted with his 43:52. He went onto have a very strong bike and a very good 1:49:01 half marathon to cross the finish line in a fantastic 5:14:21.
Paul (Spicy) Doherty has made a fantastic comeback from surgery and his form from the start of the season demonstrated that he would be on course to perform very well at Sheephaven.
Despite being a little further back in the swim than what he expected, he made some time up in the run up to transition to get ahead of his swim rival Anne Robinson.
Paul went onto bike very well but his half marathon of 1:36:33 was most impressive- considering the hot conditions. Paul crossed the finish line in a superb 5:18:41.
Margaret Kelly is another member making a fantastic return to the racing this year and on Saturday she put in a blistering performance to be crowned National F45-49 Champion. Margaret had a strong performance in all three disciplines – 39:36/2:53:51/1:44:52- and crossed the finish line winning the F45-49 age category by over 13minutes in a time of 5:21:28.
Less than three minutes later Paul Cullen crossed the line in 5:24:23- Cullen with an unbelievable marathon time of 1:33:19. Hugh Gallagher put in a fantastic swim and exited the water in 28th place, before going on to bike a brilliant 2:49:43. Hugh suffered on the run but did really well to hang on and cross the line in a brilliant 5:25:17.
Neil McBride is another member that is relatively new to triathlon and he had a very impressive race, looking strong throughout crossing the line in 5:27:55. Stephen Sweeney set a target of wanting to finish sub 5:30 and he did that in style.
Despite not being the first Sweeney brother to exit the swim, Stephen went onto bike and run superbly and finished in 5:28:09.
Always smiling Sammy Bogan never once looked like he was finding the race any way tough and he had a brilliant performance throughout clocking a total time of 5:37:13. Martin Donnelly has already conquered the Race in 2019 and on Saturday he took on his first Sheephaven finishing in a fantastic 5:38:37. Anne Robinson‘s has had a sublime 2019 and that continued at Sheephaven.
A strong swim set her up well to take on the bike course in 3:02:27 before finishing with a strong run to cross the line in 5:39:05. Philip Browne was hot on her heels in 5:40:38- another superb performance from Philip ahead of Ironman Copenhagen. Chairman Liam Tinney also had a brilliant performance finishing in a fantastic 5:42:18. Bronagh O’Gara was just over a minute later crossing the line in 5:43:30 – Bronagh as always having strong performances in each of the three disciplines. Just 30 seconds later Eamonn Patton crossed the line in 5:44 – Eamonn made up huge time with a brilliant bike split of 2:57:41 and finished with a strong 1:48:15 half marathon.
Brendan McBride put in a super performance looking really strong throughout to finish in 5:46:1.
Our Gartan race director Colm Corcoran raced brilliantly on Saturday, his bike split of 2:55:07 particularly impressive and he crossed the line in a brilliant 5:48:3.
Alastair Hetherington is in fine form ahead of his Ironman in August and he had a brilliant race to finish in 5:51:16. Paddy Doherty exited the swim in a brilliant 40:41 to set him up for a great race where he finished in a super time of 5:54:03.
Lawrence Maguire also put in a fantastic performance crossing the line in 5:57:35. Fionnuala Larkin smashed her Sheephaven goal. Her smile exiting the swim said it all and she went onto bike a fantastic 3:07:10 and ran a sub 2 half marathon to cross the line in a superb 5:59:49. Next up was Karol Harvey – what can be said about Karol’s return to racing after a long layoff and this brilliant half ironman debut.
Karol has worked incredibly hard all year and his dedication paid off when he crossed the finish line to one of the biggest cheers of the day in a total time of 6:12:55. Shane Collins raced in 2018 and was back for round 2 on Saturday- Shane put in a great race and despite finding the run tough hung on to cross the line in a brilliant 6:16:14.
Tom Murray is also Copenhagen bound later this summer and he had a brilliant race on Saturday to finish in 6:18:23. Sammy Bogan may be our smiling male club member but Rachael Stilvern was most certainly the happiest female on course on Saturday.
Rachael smiled from start to finish on Saturday and finished in a fantastic 6:18:51, over 16 minutes off last years’ time.
Philip Robinson never thought he was going to make it to the start line after a few threatening injuries on the run up to the event but he had a brilliant performance and was delighted to finish in 6:20:02. Patrick Patton also had a brilliant race, exiting the swim in a fantastic 38:37; Patrick went onto cross the line in a time of 6:28:46.
Gavin Ward was another half ironman debutant and performed brilliantly to finish in 6:44:42.
It was a very special weekend for Mary Harkin who had had a fantastic race of 6:53:29 on Saturday before making her way to Clones on Sunday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her 1994 Donegal LGFA Ulster Junior Champions win. Paul Kelly was yet another 247 member taking on his first ever half ironman and he was over the moon to cross the finish line in a brilliant 7:32:25.
The club also had lots of members taking part in teams including Amanda Witherow, Amanda McNulty, Peter McLean, Natasha Adams, Emma McGee Niamh McDaid Barry Foley, and Natasha Kelly – currently awaiting corrected results.
Special shout out to club members Siobhan Brennan, Paul Dillon and Kilian Nulty who retired from the race, best wishes to you on your recovery.
Well done to all members who took part in last week’s Termon 5k, listed below, especially Natasha Kelly 1st Female in 18:02 and to Aidan McFadden who ran a PB of20:12
Junior swim takes place this Monday 8th July, 7.30pm at Gartan- everyone welcome and our last race of the season takes place at Gartan on Saturday 13th July.
All members are encouraged to contact club PRO Fiona McDaid if they are competing in events and want to be included in club notes. It is great to see so many members take part in events each week so please submit your results. Results can be sent to 0879044287.
Club training continues as follows:
Monday: Gartan Open water sessions. In the water for 6.30 SHARP. Please see email for more information on the rules of Open water sessions at Gartan.
Tuesday: Run sessions will take place predominantly in Letterkenny Town Park. Warm up at Town Park at 6.30pm; session starts at 6.50pm SHARP. Meeting point is the chapel at St. Conal’s.
Wednesday: Swim session- Novice 7-8pm, Intermediate/Advanced 8-9pm
Thursday: Brick/TT Session-4th July TT Session –Sheral Hetherington, Eamonn Patton
Saturday: Club cycle from Aura at 8am- All members must have front and rear lights to take part in the club session.
Saturday: Club swim session Saturday at 6pm Additional lane added for 14-16yr old club members- MUST be accompanied by a parent (please note prepayment does not cover Saturday swim).
Peter O’Donnell 4:33:16
Shane McNulty 4:47:35
Jason King 5:01:40
John Connaghan 5:05:58 1st M55-59
Shaun McDevitt 5:09:03
Matthew McKinley 5:14:21
Paul Doherty 5:18:41
Margaret Kelly 5:21:28 1st F45-49
Paul Cullen 5:24:23
Hugh Gallagher 5:25:17
Neil McBride 5:27:55
Stephen Sweeney 5:28:09
Sammy Bogan 5:37:13
Martin Donnelly 5:38:37
Anne Robinson 5:39:05
Philip Browne 5:40:38
Liam Tinney 5:42:18
Bronagh O’Gara 5:43:30
Eamonn Patton 5:44:0
Brendan McBride 5:46:1
Colm Corcoran 5:48:3
Alaistair Hetherington 5:51:16
Paddy Doherty 5:54:03
Lawrence Maguire 5:57:35
Fionnuala Larkin 5:59:49
Karol Harvey 6:12:55
Shane Collins 6:16:14
Tom Murray 6:18:23
Rachael Stilvern 6:18:51
Philip Robinson 6:20:02
Patrick Patton 6:28:46
Gavin Ward 6:44:42
Mary Harkin 6:53:29
Paul Kelly 7:32:25
Siobhan Brennan DNF
Paul Dillon DNF
Killan Nulty DNF
Relay Teams- to be updated
Gavin Crawford 17:16
Natasha Kelly 18:02 1st Female
Aidan McFadden 20:12 PB
Rory Kennedy 22:29
Niamh Douglas McDaid 26:56