Slaying the Gauntlet by Rose Lynch

Rose Lynch from Galway Triathlon Club was the fastest female at the Gauntlet Middle Distance Race in Lough Cutra, breaking the tape to take her first ever overall race win. In this fabulous race report, she shares some insight into how her day unfolded at the Castle in Galway two weeks ago.

Gauntlet” is another word for an armoured glove that was thrown down to symbolise a challenge. “Running the Gauntlet” is an old military form of punishment where people run between rows of others wearing these armoured gloves, who attack the runners as they pass through. While there was no one hitting me with physical armour, the race held its reputation and provided me with many brutal challenges that beat me physically and mentally throughout.

In the lead-up to this race on May 26th, I spent 10 days in Spain clinging onto the wheel of Galway Tri’s Queen of going long;  Tricia Strelioff’. Those 10 days allowed me to rack up over 15 km of swimming, 640 km of cycling (with 7,500 m of elevation gain), and over 72 km of running. All the cycling was a great help on the bike, although I could feel all those miles in my legs on the run on race day!

I am trying to build up my racing experience ahead of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in December of this year, my coach Andrea at NVDM coaching suggested we try one middle distance race a month throughout the summer. I had already committed to the mixed team relay in Lough Cutra the day before for Galway Triathlon Club with Ruaidhri Geraghty, Martin Divilly, and Naoise O’Donnell, so the convenience of it was a no-brainer to me. The mixed team relay was a great excuse to practice transitions in the same location as the Gauntlet. However, the weather was very windy and rainy, which honestly had me dreading the race on Sunday morning.


Race morning turned out to be a beautiful day. I racked my bike and sipped on PF1500 until it was time to get in the water. The water was a surprisingly pleasant 15.2°C. The gun went off and I got an elbow to the face; I followed it up with an accidental punch to someone’s head, so all is fair in love and war. It was a beautiful, enjoyable swim around an island in the lake. I had eased off a bit in the swim, so in the last 400m, I picked up the pace and effort, kicking my legs, and getting my body ready for the bike.

Tipping a hat to the name of this event, these transitions are the most brutal of anything I’ve ever raced. I wheeled my bike through the slippery mud and soggy grass from yesterday’s rain and ran it up a hill to the mount line. It is a challenging way out of the castle grounds with narrow paths and plenty of speed bumps. The bike course is fun, going up Corkscrew Hill and enjoying all the views that the Burren has to offer.

The roads weren’t closed, and I found myself chasing down cars. One car even pulled over, rolled down the window, and I heard, “GO ON ROSE!” I thought Mike McDonagh had somehow tracked me down, but it turns out he was on his way to Lough Cutra to support and was afraid I would pass him out on my bike. So, he pulled over to let me overtake and at the last second realised it was me! That cheer accelerated the last 10 km of the bike for me, especially when my watch hit 90 km, and I was still nowhere near the end of the bike course as this course runs a few kilometers long.

I stuck to my race plan using gels from Precision Fuel and Hydration. It worked out to 110 grams of carbs/hour, 1400 mg of sodium/hour, and 650 ml of fluid per hour. I had filled in a nutrition questionnaire on the Precision Fuel and Hydration website, which gave me a race nutrition plan. It was also the nutrition available on the course.

The run was 3 laps, each 7 km around the castle grounds. I do struggle to eat on the run, so I used the PF30 chews and took one packet each lap, which gave me about 45 grams of carbs/hour. From competing here in the mixed team relay and the sprint in 2022, I was aware of how challenging this run course would be. I took the first lap very steady, not even glancing at my watch once. It meant the world to me at each lap to have so many supporters from Galway Triathlon Club; Sarah McNamara, Elizabeth Tray, Amy Rossiter, Natasha Carrick, Liz Heffernan, and Claire Hughes all deserve a special mention for their cheers as I passed them on the first and second laps. The second lap was a mental battle, and I couldn’t bring myself to look at my watch. In the end, both laps were within 30 seconds of each other, which I was happy with. The team cheering me on informed me that second place was catching up, so I really turned it on for the last lap; the added motivation that I didn’t have to do any of the laps again also helped.

The atmosphere at the finish line was incredible, and I could really feel all the support from Galway TC behind me with Joanne Murphy calling me over the line to grab that tape as the winner, running down the chute, I just felt pure happiness, and after crossing the finish line, soaking in the cheers from all the supporters, I felt emotional and relieved that all the work I am putting in is paying off.

For anyone considering the Gauntlet next year, I would highly recommend it. I would throw any time estimations you have out the window as every aspect of this event presents its own unique challenges. I would train with the fuel that you are aiming to use on race day, and I would do all of my long runs on the trails. I wouldn’t advise doing the run course in anything other than trail shoes. Be smart with your training. There is no session that will make you complete or win a race. It is weeks of consistent work that add up to give you a good performance, my finishers medal was hard earned on the day and in the weeks preceding the event.

The volunteers and supporters absolutely made the day, and I would just like to personally thank them for giving up their weekend to facilitate the many events that Lough Cutra has to offer. I will be back!

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