Carrickfergus Castle Triathlon: Third time lucky for ‘one of the best’ in NI

Carrickfergus Castle Triathlon became the first large participation event to be held in the east Antrim town since the pandemic restrictions began.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:27 pm
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Triathlon Club, and at the front retired fire officer Willy Lavery, winners of the inter services Emergency Team Competition.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Triathlon Club, and at the front retired fire officer Willy Lavery, winners of the inter services Emergency Team Competition.

After being twice postponed in 2020 and with the current restrictions only eased on May 23, the triathlon - with Covid-safeguards in place - drew hundreds of people during the course of Sunday.

The organisers, who had to adapt to the challenges presented by screening and social distancing, said they were pleased with the outcome.

Detailing how the programme unfolded against a backdrop of calm seas and blue skies, organiser Gary Davison said: “Just what was needed as the volunteers started to set up and put everything in place before the first triathletes arrived at 07.30am. When the triathletes arrived they passed into transition, after having their temperatures taken and handing in their Covid-19 screening sheet. This year’s race was going to be a lot different in a number of ways! At 8.40am they made their way to their respective start areas where they formed up in groups of 30.

Stephine Lloyd, 60-69 years old age group winner, with organiser Gary Davison and Cllr Peter Johnston.

“Normally the start is in the water and a mass start. This year for the Sprint and Team Relay they set off three at a time with a five second gap between each wave. For the Try a Tri, this was an individual start with a five second gap between each person. At 9.00am the first of 148 Sprint triathletes, five Relay teams and 20 Try a Tri triathletes entered the water for the swim. Due to the restrictions the only access into the spectator area was via the underpass near to Fisherman’s Quay. This allowed the spectators to be counted in and out of the area. During the whole event the numbers fluctuated at around 250 and never got close to exceeding the max of 500.”

The swim was from the castle to Fisherman’s Quay, just over 750m for the Sprint and Team Relay. For the Try a Tri, the swim was just over 250m long. The fastest swim of the day for the 750m was just over 10 minutes and everyone in the Try a Tri completed their swim in under 10 minutes. Once out of the water, wetsuits were removed and cycle helmets donned for the cycle leg. This took the triathletes out of Carrickfergus to the roundabout at Seapark and back through Carrickfergus and out towards Larne.

After a small hill on the Raw Brae Road they dropped back down onto the Belfast Road and back into Carrickfergus. After dismounting their cycles, it was back into transition to put on running shoes for run. The Sprint and Team Relay had three laps of the promenade and the Tri a Try, two.

Gary added: “Unfortunately, due to the restrictions no spectators were allowed along the narrow finish as had been planned. Everyone collected their medals and then made their way back to collect their bikes. The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone was happy to be back racing.

Team GIT Further, Ita, Carrie and Una.

“As the organiser, I’d like to thank everyone who helped set up, marshal on the water and land. We have a fantastic group of people who give up their time to volunteer. Without them it wouldn’t be possible to put on what is now one of the best triathlons in Northern Ireland.

Winners were as follows:

Male Sprint - Alister Duffield; Female Sprint - Catherine Sands

Male Try a Tri - Jonathan Kyle; Female Try a Tri - Ange Perrott

Alister Duffield, winner of the male Sprint event, with former Mayor, Cllr Peter Johnston and Gary Davison, organiser.

Team Relay - The Swim Reapers.

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Click here to read: Carrickfergus Castle Triathlon to draw almost 300 participants

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Catherine Sands, winner of the Female sprint, with former Mayor, Cllr Peter Johnston and Gary Davison, organiser.

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Christine Leonard and Kelly Hobson at the start of the Try a Tri.
Team Relay winners: 'The Swim Reapers'.
Some of the many volunteers who set up and marshalled the event with Anita Davison, former Mayor, Cllr Peter Johnston and, Gary Davison, organiser.
Covid check, temp and bike check prior to entry into transition.