Derval Devaney’s Dublin 70.3 Race Report

Sunday, 16 August 2015  |  Admin



Thursday – 70.3 Registration
It was the first IM branded event to come to Dublin, and to say there was excitement that a 70.3 race had arrived was an understatement! Almost 2,500 athletes (40% from overseas) were going to swim the 1.2 miles in Scotsman Bay, bike 56 miles from Dun Laoghaire through the Phoenix Park to Dunboyne, Kilcock, Maynooth before returning to the Phoenix park and running 13.1 miles around the park making up a total distance of 70.3 miles.
It all kicked off on Thursday evening when I went out to the Athletes Village in the Phoenix Park to register. I was not unlike IKEA where athletes had to snake through the Expo and IM store to finally arrive at the registration table tucked away at the end of the marquee. This is where we got our race numbers, stickers and race bags (blue bag for bike gear, red bag for run gear, white bag for “street wear” after the race). There was a great buzz about the place and I met with fellow Belpark athletes who shared in my excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead of us on Sunday. I tried my best not to succumb to purchasing IM merchandise .. but got sucked in (thanks Keith and Deirdre!!) when I was told that the IM Logo on the hoodies contained the names of all the athletes that were on the start list.

Dublin 70.3 IM Hoodie … race entrants  - can you find your name?!






Friday – T2 Run Bag Drop
It felt as if I had a path worn to the Phoenix Park – I returned again during lunch break on Friday with my blue run bag. It was pouring rain and I thought, you can rain all you like between now and Sunday morning but please, please be dry for race day! My run bag contained my socks, runners, some gels and my sunglasses. I placed by bag on a hook where my race number 1977 was displayed and quickly checked out where my bike would be racked on Sunday at Transition 2 (T2) nearby. A few more from Belparkers were also present and we discussed race details (a disqualification if you litter on the bike course,  you must put your race belt in the blue bike bag, you get your timing chip at T1, there is a swim practice in the morning, etc.)  That evening Kevin’s parents arrived and they were a great distraction. We relaxed in front of the TV once we had our bikes and blue race bags ready for drop off next morning.


Ironman race gear ready!
Race Kit … Dublin 70.3 lets be havin’ ya!

Saturday – T1 Bag and Bike Drop
What a glorious sunny summer’s morning it was! Kevin and I headed down to Sandycove Beach, Dun Laoghaire on the Vespa for the IM swim practice. There were plenty at the beach kitted out in rubber and IM branded swim caps. The buoys weren’t out but we decided to get in anyway. The water was freezing! I swam 400m and exited thinking it was going to be tough swimming long distance in that!
I went for an easy 1 hour spin on my bike just to check all was in order before dropping it off to T1 at Marine Parade, Dun Laoghaire along with my bike bag which had my helmet and race belt. My wetsuit would go into this tomorrow once I exit the swim. The rest of the day was spent chilling out in front of the TV after I put on my race number tattoo which we got in our race bag

Iroman Dublin Race Number Tatoo
Getting the tatts out for the buoys :-P

Swim 1.9K (or so we were told!!)
There’s early, and there’s early O’clock – it was still dark outside when the alarm went off at 4.45am. Eating breakfast at this time felt wrong but I needed to get those carbs into me! Kevin and I headed down to T1 where we checked the bike tyres for pressure, strapped nutrition to the bike, filled our water bottles and then it was a case of keeping calm amongst various trips to join the queues for the portaloos. The music was pumping at T1 and it was cool to see the PRO men start at 6.40am followed by the PRO women 10 minutes later.
There was a 10 minute gap between each wave and all the women were in Wave 7, off at 7:40am. It was a rolling start, which meant your time started as soon as you the crossed the timing mat on the slipway into the water. This had the advantage over a mass start, where everyone starts once the gun goes off causing chaos as athletes jostle for position. I have never experienced a calmer race start where we walked to the mat and got into the water and started to swim. No panic!

Photo taken from Air Support Unit of swim start Sandycove, Dun Laoghaire

However, I think I was a little too relaxed and didn’t feel the same adrenaline rush as I had a few weeks back during Athlone Half Distance Triathlon. This left me feeling once the swim was over that I could have had a faster swim. We had to keep all buoys to our left apart from the last yellow buoy. I was pleasantly surprised not to find the water as cold as the day before. At about 900m into the swim there was confusion over which buoy to swim to. A kayaker was shouting to swim right to the next orange buoy, but people were heading to a yellow one to the left instead. One swimmer swims head on into the kayak (ouch!). I think this could have been avoided if there were more buoys on the course and of the same colour. We got assistance exiting the ramp at the swim exit and I was out onto T1 with a swim time of 38:08. I had heard later that the swim was 200-300m longer than the IM distance.

Swim exit leading into T1

I found my bike bag amongst all the other hundreds of numbered blue bags with ease and ran to my bike and out onto the bike course. It was starting to rain a little at this stage and I hoped I wouldn’t get too cold on the bike leg. I wondered how foreign competitors were finding the temperatures. Having ridden the bike course a few times in training I knew what to expect, however, it was weird cycling on closed roads and on the wrong side of the road along the quays in Dublin! I had almost expected a taxi driver to come from no-where telling me I shouldn’t be there and that I hadn’t “paid my road tax” or that driver would appear, who had once shouted from his taxi, saying  that I should “get-a-life” (yes, seriously!) But even the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits as I climbed the short hill outside the Phoenix Park and heard Aileen Flynn, Kona-bound athlete, shout words of encouragement to me “Come on Maire Triona – No Derval, It’s Derval!! Go Derval…!! You are 9th woman. Go, Go, GO”. Aileen told me after she didn’t know whether to tell me my position or not as I was a good bit back in the gender ranking! But I was happy to hear where I was. On into the park and over the vicious ramps near the Garda HQ;  I felt good on the bike and was overtaking men and shouting “on your right” as I overtook just so they knew I was coming! Outside the park again and on a descent and sharp left-hand bend I got overtaken by a man at speed who had a wobble coming out of the bend. He lost control of his bike and ended up in the air before crashing down on his right side – he went one direction and his bike another, landing just front of me. I swerved to avoid it. The screams of pain coming from him would lead me to believe something (perhaps collar bone) was broken. I can’t say it didn’t bring a memory (or two!) flooding back to me and I was a little shaken for a while after. The marshals were there to tend to him. Further along the undulating road towards Dunboyne I overtook Linda Clarke of Pirhana Tri Club who had a blistering swim (31:15) and Vanessa Fenton and eventually Jennifer O’Connell of T3 where we exchanged a few words of encouragement. There was a constant stream of male athletes on the road, some had punctured, some more crashed, and my voice was getting hoarse from alerting them to me overtaking. I really enjoyed the bike course, one of the few races where I didn’t see any drafting. Being in the 7th wave and having a 10 minute gap between waves really helped keep it an honest race and the marshals on each corner and road junction were fully alert and visible. I tried to remember to sip on my energy drink every 15 minutes and I had gels strapped to my bike to take. My Garmin refused to read by heart rate monitor so I had to rely on my perceived effort to know how hard to push myself. I got overtaken by only a handful of men and after Dunboyne by a girl wearing a Fingal Tri Trisuit overtook me. She looked strong. I had wished at this stage that my heart-rate was on display as I didn’t know if I could or should push more. I decided to keep steady as this had benefited me on the run in the Athlone Middle Distance race. We had a “nice” sharp climb back into the Phoenix Park and more cheers from tri club friends (Ellen Shilling et al.) before making our way to T2 in the Park. I finished the bike leg in 2:36:34, the exact time down to the second of my SCR team mate Maire-Triona Keane!

Bag No. 1977 watch out, I’m comin’ to getcha!

I can hardly remember the start of the run – it was on a grassy trial from T2 onto the tarmac road. I was trying to take a gel and getting my run legs into gear. But as soon as I hit Chesterfield Avenue, wow did I know I was alive. The cheers from 10,000 spectators that lined the avenue were unbelievable. It was loud. It was electric. It was emotional. It was 3 laps on a flat course. There was no wind and not much sun. It was perfect race conditions. At the end of each lap we got a different coloured band to put on our wrist to track the laps we had completed.  Aileen Flynn was tracking my progress on the run, shouting my splits. I think I was in 5th place coming on to the run. “Come on Derval, she’s 6 minutes ahead of you”.  I had no idea who was ahead, bar the Fingal tri girl who had overtaken me on the bike and the female pros that had started in Wave 2. I overtook a girl in black (Is she a relay? Is she a pro? Who is she? She’s tanned! She’s not Irish!) I hadn’t a notion who she was but she had a cyclist following her with a sign saying 3rd Female! (It happened to be Emma Bilham a PRO athlete who came 4th overall and was on her last lap!) Most of the PROs would have been finished by now as they started 50 minutes ahead of my wave.
Lap 2 on the Run course

 I kept focused, took a gel, felt better than I did on the run in Athlone (my average pace was 4.23/km). On Lap 2 Aileen was telling me I was closing the gap on the girl ahead –“ 3 minutes, you’ll catch her, come on, just keep it steady.” About half way around the 2nd lap I overtook another female athlete and then on the final lap, Aileen encouraged me some more.   I then came within sight of the woman from Fingal Tri. Someone shouted she was 15 seconds ahead; someone else said 30 seconds, I thought it was more like 20. I was closing in on her. I got my final wristband and there was about 600m to go but I could see that she was striding it out too and widening the gap on me towards the end. Then there was the stretch to the finish line straight ahead, and the cheers and elation. I crossed the line in 4:53:39, 8th female overall and 3rd amateur female crossing the line 39 seconds behind Aine Donegan from Fingal Triathlon Club who had a superb race and bike split.  I was delighted to win my age-group category along with Maire-Triona Keane of Swim Cycle Run and to celebrate with friends and family at the finish-line.

Top 10 finishers (including female PROS)

Well done to Kevin Thornton who was 3rd PRO over the line (including the 3 minutes it took to change his puncture!) in a time of 4:08:34 and to the Belparkers who did us proud including Mark, Helen, Dee, Frank, Andrew, Keith, Sarah, Tara, Ray and also to tri friends Ian Farrell, Timmy Barry, Siobhan Duggan, the Burke sisters, Matt Coughlan...the list is long! Thanks to my No. 1 supporters; the Keanes along with Aileen Flynn, Belpark Tri Club members,  Eilis Connery of Premier Physiotherapy, Sports Med Ireland, John Caffery, Emma Donlon, Michelle Rowley, to name but a few  who were out on the course cheering us on. To my sponsors SwimCycleRun and Salming for supporting me in doing what I love most.  And last but not least, thanks to my husband Kevin Keane (who was 1st Belparker over the line) for his leading example on how to mentally deal with injuries and the trials and tribulations that gets in life’s way, for reminding me that… “it is what it is…” and for whipping the iPhone out of my hand at bedtime and telling me to “get off Facebook and get some sleep” !!

Age-Group 40-44  Podium (R-L, 1st Male Pro Denis Chevrot FRA, Jen O’Connell IRL, Brian Tilley GBR, me, Declan Doyle IRL, Jean Wallace IRL  & Paul O’Doherty IRL.

It just been announced that Dublin 70.3 will return on August 7, 2016. I’d highly recommend the race; well organised, and a great course with wonderful atmosphere. The journey of 70.3 miles begins with a just a single step (or click of a mouse!)  And if you still not convinced about signing up – take a look at this video which sums the day up nicely …
Thanks to ActionPhotography,  @GardaTraffic & Stephen Doring for images.


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