Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon celebrates its 10 year anniversary this month on May 28th and 29th. Over the years the event has gone from strength to strength as one of the most popular endurance sport festival weekends in Ireland. Participants travel from four corners of the country to experience the joy of swimming in the privately owned lake at the foot of the Castle, enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the Burren and South Galway on the bike course before weaving their way through the woodland, track and trail of the castle estate on the run course. With races for all ages and abilities it’s a favourite for many to kickstart their racing season each year. In this article Race Director Brian Adcock shares some insight into the event and why he keeps coming back to the Castle and what he is most looking forward to this year.
My mother is Irish and grew up in Bray, Co. Wicklow. She was one of nine! I came over after my A-levels and stayed with my cousins and played Gaelic football for Bray for the summer. We have been on numerous family holidays over the years and fell in love with the West Coast on our travels. As a company we were looking to expand into Europe and were actively looking at Irish castles when we were contacted by Suzi Gwyn-Jones the owner of Lough Cutra Castle. Her two sons, Rollo and Dom, are both keen triathletes and had always wanted to put on triathlon on at the castle. As luck would have it we were at a wedding in Donegal that summer and so took a ride down the west coast to the castle and the rest is history.
On the day that we arrived it was about 20C and all three of my kids (5, 8 and 9 at the time) were desperate to go for a swim in the lake. Keen wild swimmers, we had never swum in such a clean, calm and iridescent lake and from that point on we were sold. Add to that a one thousand acre estate and some of the best cycling routes Ireland has to offer, it was a no brainer.
We started off as a one day event, no camping and limited entertainment. We are now a full weekend festival with over 400 campers, a main stage and a multi-event format that provides opportunities for all ages and abilities from 8 to 80 years. It really is a family friendly and fun festival weekend that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Event format is the same as in previous years with shorter adult races (sprints) on the Saturday morning and the longer ones (1/2 iron and Olympic) on the Sunday morning. Swim only events take place on Saturday afternoon and then the Run only events and kids races on Sunday afternoon. St Colman’s Camogie club are organising all the run and cycle marshals this year so expect an extremely well marshalled and well signed cycle route. We drove round the other day and put red markings on the tarmac where there are potholes, not too many, a lot of the road has been upgraded so cycle routes are in pristine condition thanks to the local county councils in Galway and Clare.
The run routes on the estate have also be upgraded, they get better and better each year. The Swim Series 5K and 2.5K routes have been changed so that swimmers will swim an out and back course that circles two islands (Apple and Cormorant) which should be a welcome change for our swimmers in these two events and for the spectators watching from the water’s edge.
Our core team at Castle Race Series is very small there are only 5 of us working on the events across the year. On race weekend it expands hugely and we have a dedicated team of 40 core staff and a further 150 marshals to ensure the event is run as smoothly as possible.
It’s difficult to pick one or two highlights, there have been so many over the past 10 years, but for me these are some of the standout highlights; The first 1/2 iron distance race that we put on at Lough Cutra in 2015, hosting the Irish Mixed Relay Championships for 3 years in succession, hosting the National Youth Series events and seeing the young athletes racing and progressing year on year has been super! On a personal note seeing my kids competing in all of the events over the years and now physically helping me to put them on that’s definitely a highlight. I could list off another 10 highlights but these are the best in my opinion.
Now that’s a difficult question, more difficult than the one above about my highlights! Ultimately it’s getting back to the castle, delivering an exceptional race experience for our athletes and reconnecting with the Irish triathlon community and friends we have made over the years. We are definitely going for the ‘party feel’ this year and I’m looking forward to having The Treblemakers get the party started as they play a mix of covers and their own music on the main stage. I’m also looking forward to our special 10th Anniversary Dinner in the castle on the Friday evening of race weekend, an opportunity to say thank you to all the local stakeholders and partners who have helped us make the event such a huge success over the past 10 years.
Come and have some fun, enjoy the atmosphere, the camaraderie with fellow athletes and embrace the opportunity to race at this stunning location normally closed to the public. It’s going to be a fantastic race weekend and I can’t wait to see you there.
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