Hell of the West 2014 : Derval Devaney Race Report

Wednesday, 2 July 2014  |  Admin

Hell of the West 2014 - Olympic Distance Triathlon National Championship

The Kilkee Hell of the West (HOTW) Triathlon is an Olympic Distance Triathlon organised by the Limerick Triathlon Club. June 28th 2014 saw the 30th running of HOTW, making it one of the longest running triathlons in Ireland and in the World. As well as being a National Series race, this year it was also chosen to host the National Olympic Distance Championships.

Hell of the West starts with a 1500m swim in Kilkee’s horse shoe bay, a 44km cycle against the winds of West Clare and a 10km hilly run along the rugged coastline of Loop Head – giving it the name it truly deserves. Due to the storm damage experienced earlier this year (see photo below) the cycle route was slightly changed where were diverted away from the storm-damaged section promenade in Kilkee at the beginning end final stages of the bike course.


Kilkee Storm Damage - Gordon Thompson

Storm-damaged transition area -  February 2014


This race attracts many of Ireland’s top male and female athletes and many were speculating over who would be crowned male and female National Champion for 2014. Would it be Aaron O'Brien - who had a good comfortable 2nd at Lough Cultra or Rory Sexton, a fish in water, or Mark Horan who came 3rd last year? Kevin Thornton, 2nd last year to Gavin Noble, was unfortunately out as a result of an achilles injury. Trevor Woods, in good winning form and strong at all disciplines was also on the entry list along with Colm Turner, Shane Scully, David Richardson and Matt Molloy, etc. In the women’s field we had an equally competitive field with Katie Cooke – who won the National Sprint Championship; Carolyn Hayes, a fast swimmer; Joyce Wolfe, Rachel Glendon, Anna Crooks (last year’s HOTW winner), Caoimhe Ni Mhurchu, Katie Fitzgerald and my fellow SwimCycleRun mate, Rachel Clancy. Unfortunately Maire Triona Keane(SwimCycleRun) while on the start list, was out due to injury but it was great to see her take part as a relay.


I registered for the race the evening before in Kilkee, met a few familiar faces before heading to my B&B. I had left it quite late (by HOTW standards !!) to book my accommodation and hence I probably got the last bed available nearby, in Kilrush, some 13kms away. Our landlady informed us that 4 others, also doing the “marathon” in Kilkee, were also booked in. And I was delighted to see the Wolfe family approach the house laden with bags -  Joyce, Eric, Mark and Laura! Each of us explained in detail our nutritional needs for breakfast, before hitting our beds. Rising at 6.30am for breakfast didn’t seem to dampen our hostess’s cheer either, she thought we were all great! What great Irish Hospitality we got on the morning of race day at  http://kilrush.aylevarroo.net/.

The wind had died down from the day before and the sun was out. I have never seen the bay as calm. This was good! Transition was numbered which made for an easy set-up, and all clubs were positioned together with Belpark Tri Club  situated next to the band stand pictured above.

Hell of the West Kilkee Beach Start Triathlon

The Swim (Time: 23:57 L )

The waves were based on the swim times and I was in Wave 1. After the race briefing we walked down the beach to the shoreline and got ample opportunity to acclimatise to the waters, which I found warmer than anticipated! Eamonn Tilley explained once again to all the anti-clockwise swim route marked by large yellow buoys. After the count-down I experienced one of the roughest swim starts I’ve been in! Someone kept grabbing my shoulder or trying to swim over me and
there were so many up in front that it was difficult to go anywhere. Eventually past the 1st buoy I got to clear water. Coming back towards the shore it got quite shallow to the right and I was fearful I would get stuck in weeds! But this line I figured was the shortest. Out of the water I got my wetsuit down to waist level and ran to T1. I heard Kevin shout that I was 3 minutes behind 2nd female out of the water. I now focused on getting through T1 quickly. My my race chip prohibited me from taking off my wetsuit with ease but with an extra effort I was out onto the bike course.

The Bike (Time: 1:14:24)

The aforementioned wind was not as strong as I remembered it being other years.
The hill out of kilkee was pretty tough but the course in general is an undulating one. I started to pass a few women, Rachel Clancy being most notable as she had the SwimCycleRun gear on! Rachel overtook me again and I dropped back but kept her in sight and as soon as I got a straight stretch I powered on ahead of her. I passed a few more women but wasn’t until about the final 8km of the race that I passed Katie Fitzgerald and then saw Anna Crooks further ahead. I overtook Anna and a male competitor in a Covey Trisuit (my ex-cycling club in Westport!) However, Anna stayed close behind, as she overtook me just as I was entering the town of Kilkee about 600m from T2.

The Run (Time: 40:39 )

I wasn’t going to wear socks for this 10k hilly run – I figured as I didn’t blister in Dunmore East’s 7km run that running without them was worth a chance. I got out of T2 quickly as a result, with Anna just ahead of me. I made up some good time on this hilly run – the view was amazing but there was no time to look and take it all in today! I had to focus on chasing the women that were further ahead. I got great encouragement from spectators (Lynne Algar, Jane Evans,  Adam Kelly) and other club members ( Pulse,  Pirhana Tri Club) and my own Belpark Club. Despite the tough run the atmosphere and encouragement was fantastic. I overtook Cliodhna Spain at 1.5km into the run, then Caoimhe Ni Mhurchu. Coming up to the turnaround point I could see that Carolyn was in the lead with Katie close behind. Joyce was next and seemed be running comfortably and closing the gap ahead as was Anna Crook. At about 7km I passed Kitty Perle and then before reaching the promenade, Rachel Glendon. I pushed it to the end crossing the line in 2:20:44 (5th position and placing me in 3rd in my Age-Group). Aaron O’Brien (Limerick Tri Club), Charles Maltha (Belpark Tri Club/Base2Race) and Mark Horan (Pulse Tri Club) came 1, 2 and 3 for the men with Charles posting the fastest bike split in an incredible 1:05:30.

Hell of the West Triathlon 2014 Top 5 Female FinishersFrom Left:(Anna Crooks  (4th), Katie Cooke(2nd), Carolyn Hayes (1st) and Joyce Wolfe (3rd)

Well done to Rachel Clancy who came 9th overall (2:24:46) all the other Belparkers who did really well. Thanks for LTC for again doing a great job and to Martin Jancek/TI Media and Sean Power/TI Media for the photos taken on the day.

Martins album of photos from HOTW here.

Seans album of photos from HOTW here.


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