One of the best fields seen at a Connacht run/bike/run event assembled in Claremorris on Saturday December 28 for the annual Land of the Giants Duathlon. The wet stormy weather did not deter some 200 participants from taking part, for most it was a case of cabin fever and this event was the tonic to get out and about. On the day the weather gods were kind to the organisers, no wind or rain, just a nice calm overcast morning greeted the eager competitors.
The race started with a 5km blast from the Square, Claremorris, with the 200 plus competitors filling the street all the way to McMahon Park, at the park competitors singled out for the 4.5k lap around the Land of the Giants greenway. Galway’s John Greaney led in the early stages of the first run but was over taken on the Greenway by Irish International triathlete Aichlinn O’Reilly from Westport, by transition the gap between the two was a mere 50m with Greaney doing well to hold the youngster.
Behind the leading duo, last year’s winner Ruaidhri Geraghty and Ballina’s Stephen Donnelly were nearly a minute behind. Geraghty and Donnelly are strong cyclists and were expected to eat into the lead of the leading two but it was O’Reilly who showed that he had the form. After stage two’s bike section of 18kms, Aichlinn O’Reilly had stretched his lead to nearly a minute on Greaney, Geraghty and Donnelly were neck and neck going into the last run, the final 2k would sort out who got the final podium position.
At the finish line Aichlinn O’Reilly completed the course in a time of 53:27, (breaking the course record by three minutes ), he had nearly a minute to spare over John Greaney, Galway, with last year’s winner Ruaidhri Geraghty, Galway, just holding off Ballina’s Stephen Donnelly for third in a time of 54:40.
In the Junior race Westport’s Sean Flynn showed he was not far off his senior compatriots finishing fifth overall, only two minutes behind the winner.
With O’Reilly, Flynn, and Con Doherty all from Westport, the town is surely a hive of up and coming talent at the moment when it comes to running and cycling. In the ladies’ race the evergreen Marie O’Boyle from Spiddal showed age is no barrier winning the ladies’ race by over two minutes in a time of 1:03:12, another Galway woman Barbara Dunne came second in a time of 1:05:10, with Claremorris’s Catherine Conway a close third in 1:05:46.
Jimmy Flynn president of the Claremorris Chamber of Commerce commented: “An event like this was great for the area, participants brought a massive cheer to the town after the stormy weather and I am sure there was quite a bit of cash spent while they visited, roll on 2014.”