James Edgar and Carolyn Hayes have won the 2016 Triathlon Ireland Sprint Distance National Championships in convincing style at the Two Provinces Triathlon in Lanesborough Co. Longford.
Edgar, who at just 17 years old follows in the footsteps of Olympian Gavin Noble as National Champion, won with an overall time of 57mins 15seconds - 39secs clear of his closest rival.
In the women’s race, Carolyn Hayes retained the title she first won at Pulse Port Beach triathlon in September 2015 with a performance that highlighted her dominance of the female domestic scene.
Edgar lead the men’s race from the start emerging from the 750m swim in Lough Ree with a commanding lead of more than 30seconds over a pack of men which included recently crowned Standard Distance National Champion Chris Mintern, Darren Dunne, Cillian Tierney and Aichlinn O’Reilly.
Edgar maintained this solo lead for 12km of the 20km bike course, before his pursuers, who by this stage had been joined by Neil Bolger of Pulse Triathlon Club, used their superior numbers to catch up.
On the final 10km of the bike course, a number of attacks were launched off the lead bike pack with a number of triathletes hoping to carve out an advantage that they could take on to run. All attempts were reeled in, however, until the 17km point when Aichlinn O’Reilly went clear off the front. The Westport man was first into T2 with a lead of 20 seconds over the chasing pack.
Out on the run 5km, Chris Mintern from Cork Triathlon Club was forced to retire having not recovered from the effects of a chest cold earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Darren Dunne and James Edgar pressed on, overtaking O’Reilly, and at the 2.5km turnaround point the battle for the title had come down to a two-man battle.
Edgar kicked and pulled ahead with less than 2km to go and crossed the line to win his first ever National Triathlon Championships at Senior level.
Second place went to Darren Dunne, who came home 39 seconds later. Neil Bolger ran a 17min 5km to claim the bronze medal in a time of 58mins 09secs.
Speaking afterwards, James Edgar said the race was the best performance of his career so far and gives him confidence that he can fulfil his long-term ambition of representing Ireland at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“This is the best feeling ever. It’s probably the best race I’ve had so far, my swim was good, my bike was good and that was the best run I’ve ever done. To have my name among the stars of the sport for Ireland is something special and to win a national championship really sets me up for the future.”
“My plans are to race at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and then try as hard as I can to make that 2020 Olympic team, this really sets me up and shows me where I am at.”
In the women’s race, reigning sprint distance champion Carolyn Hayes retained her title but was made to work for her victory however as she emerged 13 seconds down on English junior triathlete Emer Wintsch.
Wintsch and Hayes formed a pairing on the 20km bike but with 17-year-old unable to hold Hayes’s wheel, the Limerick woman found herself racing solo.
She was first to arrive into T2 and headed out on the 5km run alone with a more than 90-second advantage over the second placed woman.
Hayes duly crossed the finish line in 1st place with Heather Foley posting the quickest run split of the day to come home in second, 1min and 14 seconds later. Wintsh held off the rest of the field to take the bronze medal.
Hayes said afterwards that her victory didn’t come easy. “I wanted to win, I had one goal and that was to win but I didn’t know what way it was going to go. I just said I’d leave nothing to chance and I really went for it. It’s great to retain the title. I definitely had to work for it.”
Hayes has just begun her final year of medical studies and revealed that balancing training with college is not always easy.
“There are lots of evenings when there are tears, you miss sessions or you feel you should be maybe studying but I find triathlon is a great escape and I find that I am actually more productive having the training, it;s a break I absolutely love it and that’s why I continue to do it.”
In all more than 600 people took part in a range of races at the Two Provinces Triathlon, including a kids race, an Aquabike and a Tri-aTri event.
Richard Doyle from Piranha Triathlon Club won the men’s non-drafting event with Lizanne Barnwall the first woman home in the women’s non-drafting race.
Provisional results are available on http://www.sportsplits.com