A 7am start would definitely be considered early by most people's standard but rising before the sun even has time to shine, to begin a 70.3 mile endurance race otherwise called Ironman, might just be called crazy! For some 2000 individual athletes and another 100 relay teams from 42 countries that was just the case on a wet and cold morning last Sunday the 4th of September. The morning was considerably bitter and with choppy ocean conditions getting worst, the event organisers were forced to reduce the length of the swim for the athletes safety. It wasn't long though before the pro category said goodbye to ladies beach where a large crowd had gathered to watch this unique first time event and found themselves tested by Irish sea conditions for the first time. They were quickly followed by the other age groups and to no surprise they all arrived safely at Palmers Rock Strand beach. From what looked like small specks in the ocean from the shore, emerged strong determined athletes who were now well on there way in what was to become a roughly 4 to 7 hour ordeal for most athletes. The rest of their day would be filled with a 90km cycle to Maam cross and back again with just less than a 400m climb, followed by a gruelling 13.1 mile run course which took athletes in to Galway city and gave them a chance to visit the famous Spanish arch. The Athletes who made it to the finish line were greeted by Mike Reilly and Joanne Murphy who were the official commentators for the event. Mike from San Diego California is considered to be the voice of Ironman, having announced at over 1000 endurance events world wide and a triathlon athlete himself, he has a great knowledge of the events history and what it takes to compete at this level. Joanne who is originally from Cork, has lived in Galway since 2004 and since joining the Galway triathlon club in 2009 has taken part in numerous sprint and Olympic triathlons, Edinburgh and Connemara half marathons and Gaelforce west. Joanne was set to take part in Ironman Galway, which also would have been her first half Ironman until injury forced her to withdraw from this years event. Joanne is also very involved with charity and with her gift for the gab and Mikes charism they helped keep the crowds cheering while the athletes arrived at the finish line over several hours. The first person to cross the finish line back in Salthill was Swiss professional Mike Aigroz, who finished in a time of 3 hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds, while Irishman Owen Cummins was third in the event with a time of 4 hours, 1 minute and 26 seconds. Some more familiar faces to cross the line included Gráinne Seoighe, Kathryn Thomas, Ray Darcy and Keith Duffy from Boyzone who along with another 100 athletes completed the Ironman to raise funds for Irish Autism Action. After receiving their finishers t-shirts and long awaited Ironman 70.3 medal, Roy Brennan and the fine people from ARTC or Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Certified were on hand to give athletes a well need rub down. Food and drinks were also supplied for all the athletes to help them recover from the long day. The party continued that night in the Galway Bay hotel where the awards ceremony took place and entertainment was provided by serveral acts which included "Trad on the prom" and Gerard Fahy who was the musical director for Lord of the Dance. The event was a huge success for Galway and for Ironman, with it being one of the quickest sell out first time events for Ironman. Mike Reilly noted also that the organisation of the event was particularly impressive on E&R Events part seeing as it was the first time Ironman had been to Ireland and that he was convinced that the event was here to stay. Eamonn McManus Check out www.galway.com for some photos from the event! Music by: Muse - Uprising Foo Fighters - Best of you+ More details
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