Telus International Salmon Run Sprint Triathlon 2023, by Elizabeth Young
By Elizabeth Young, PRO Liquid Motion Triathlon Club
Sunday last saw the second event of a bumper sporting weekend for the Ballina Salmon Festival and as part of the ongoing year of Ballina 2023 celebrations and Ballina Salmon Festival.
Just a day after the River Moy Swim, 186 competitors took to the Moy again to compete in the Telus International Salmon Run Sprint Triathlon, consisting of a 750 meter swim from the Ridge Pool to the end of Bachelors Walk, a 20km cycle to Killala and back, and a 5km run to the Quay and back.
The event, hosted by the local triathlon club, Liquid Motion, was back with a bang for the second year after the Covid hiatus.
Representation came from all over the country with particularly strong representation from local clubs, Liquid Motion, Castlebar and Sligo Tri Clubs. It was especially good to see the crowds supporting along the banks of the Moy, on the bridges, in transition and on the run route.
What a race it was with all podium places being exchanged in the final stages of the run. New man Colm Tobin, after a strong swim and bike, was overhauled by a charging Trevor Cawley for third place with 1km to go. Up front, Liquid Motion’s Shane Dunne, who took first place on the podium in the River Moy Swim the previous day, went out on the run in first place with two minutes to spare. Shane put in the fastest swim and bike section of the race. Hot on his heels was last years winner, local man and clubmate Stephen Donnelly. Stephen put in a blistering 5km of 17:49 to catch and overtake Shane on the way back from the Quay to finish with a time of 1:01:05 and retain his crown.
Special mention to young Enniscrone man Kenneth Mulrooney, relatively new to triathlon, who finished in 7th place overall (and age group winner) with the second fastest run of the day.
In the women’s race, Dympna Kelly from Lough Key Tri Club after a blisteringly fast bike leg went out on the run seconds ahead of last years winner Sinead Whitelaw. However, Sinead’s fantastic sub 20 min 5km (19:51) ensured she too retained her title. Liquid Motion and Ballina woman Clodagh Cumiskey, also relatively new to triathlon, took a superb third place.
The relay was won by Westport’s “Gallagher Gang” who were well set up by Maeve Gallagher who put in the second fastest swim on the day, exiting the water seconds behind Shane Dunne. Maeve had also taken the first women’s spot in the previous day’s River Moy Swim.
Also on the day saw club member Christy Heverin complete his first full Sprint triathlon. He had competed as part of a relay on many occasions in the past but this year he went the extra mile and took on the challenge of completing the full race. It is thought that Christy is the first man with Down Syndrome in Ireland to complete a full triathlon so well done to Christy! He did it with style!
While most attention is given to those at the front end of the race, those further back deserve a mention. Those who don’t care about placing or times but want to complete the race. A perfect example is Castleconnor’s Anne Rafter Côté who learned to swim during Covid, had never swam in the Moy, hadn’t been cycling or running until recently, but set herself the goal of doing the Salmon Run and did it. Well done to Anne and all the competitors who achieved their personal goals, your medal is the same and as well-earned as the winners.
We look ahead to next year as it is a big anniversary for the club, celebrating 20 years since its inception! So if you are thinking of coming out of retirement or completing your first triathlon next year might be your year!
Photos: James Wright Photography