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European Championship test for Cathy

Cathy Cunningham celebrates finishing the European Sprint Distance Championship triathlon

ON Saturday morning of last week, across the Irish Sea, Omagh Triathlon Club member Cathy Cunningham was representing Ireland at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Scotland.

The venue for the Championships was the iconic Strathclyde Country Park (SCP) in North Lanarkshire, which lies in 400 hectares of  picturesque countryside in the valley of the River Clyde. The venue is internationally renowned for hosting major sporting events, including the triathlon competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The swim was over 750m in the lough, where Cathy recorded a super time of 12:10 minutes. After a quick transition, she made her way onto the bike for the 20K cycle, which consisted of three out and back, tough undulating laps. Cathy finished the cycle in a great time of 40:59 minutes. Back into transition and on with the trainers, Cathy headed out to finish the race with a 5K one lap course on a mix of surfaces of tarmac and trail, finishing in fine tune with a time of 25:03 minutes for a great overall time of one hour 22:08 minutes.

Not too far away, club member Ciara Largey was making a massive achievement herself by completing her 100th Munro. In Scotland, any mountain with a climb of over 3000 feet is called a Munro and there are 282 of these mountains there.

After the club’s sprint triathlon last week, some members were out to move up a notch to complete an Olympic distance race. Luckily enough, there was one just up the road at Lough Neagh. Hosted by the Hi-Elbow Triathlon Club this is a race with a savage history, with the likes of Javier Gomez, Allister Brownlee and Gavin Noble all racing on this course in the past. So, it was the perfect place for OTC members Gemma Skeath, John Morris, Dessie McAleer, Gerard Turbitt, JJ McCullagh, Padraig McDermott, Albert Law, Barry McCann and Conor Maguire to show off their talents at said distance.

First out of the 750m swim for OTC was the ever-impressive Conor Maguire in a time of 28:49, closely followed by Chris (29:04), John (32:47), Gerard (34:54), Barry (35:26), Gemma (36:55), John Joe (37:08), Dessie (37:24), Albert (48:46) and Padraig. Everyone headed out onto the 40K cycle, where unfortunately Padraig had a mechanical, which resulted in a broken chain and he had to withdraw. The cycle changed the order of club members with Chris overtaking Conor as the fastest heading into transition two, followed in order of  bike time by Barry, John, John Joe, Dessie, Gerard, Gemma and Albert. The big finale was the 10K road run and this is when Conor really came  to life to record a savage time of 37:09 minutes, recording the second fastest run of the day and only 33 seconds behind a certain Irish Ironman record holder, Brian McCrystal. With such a run, Conor finished in seventh place overall and taking his age group win with a total time of two hours 12:54 minutes. Next in for OTC was Chris (2.14:24), who also took the win in his age group, followed by John (2.31:39), John Joe (2.37:16), Barry  (2.37:52), Gerard, who was another age group winner (2.45:08), Dessie (2.48:11), Gemma (3.02:13) and Albert (3.13:35).

Back in action the next day at the open water skins 5K swim at Camlough, Newry, was OTC man Paul Gormley. He swam the distance in a time of one hour 47 minutes to secure third place in the male 5K Skins and nailed second place in the Ulster Championships!

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