AN endurance athlete from Omagh has qualified for next year’s Half Ironman World Championship in Slovakia after recording a career best podium place finish in a prestigious international challenge event in Majorca.
Challenge Paguera is renowned as one of the major international events of its kind on the continent and Omagh man Lorcan Healy produced the performance of a lifetime to finish third in the amateur men’s race.
In storming to that impressive podium finish, the Omagh Tri Club member not only qualified for next June’s World Championship but in the process finished ahead of a number of full-time professionals.
Making the achievement all the more remarkable is the fact that the stunning success has come at the end of what Healy described as a “nightmare” season.
After completing a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and running a half marathon in a stifling 28 degrees, Healy said the whole event had been an amazing experience.
“Crossing the finish line was amazing, everyone was shouting and cheering, the atmosphere was brilliant,” he said.
“That was the same for much of the way around, even cycling through the villages in the mountains people were shouting you on.
“The event was really really tough. The water was better suited to surfing than swimming and we had to climb some 3000ft on the bike.
“At the end of the run my legs were beginning to shut down. By then I knew I was clear in third and I just had to keep going.
“My final time of 4hrs 38 minutes would be slow enough for a half marathon normally but this course was particularly gruelling.
“I went into the event hoping for a top 10, I certainly didn’t think I could finish on the podium. Without doubt this is the best race I have ever run.”
Given the season Healy has experienced, finishing third was beyond his wildest dreams.
A physio by trade, Lorcan has endured an injury-ravaged season and that was reflected in a number of dismal performances along the way.
In fact, the Omagh Wheeler only managed six weeks of intensive training in the build up to Paguera.
“I had a terrible year, a nightmare season,” he continued.
FULL STORY IN TODAY’S ULSTER HERALD