Sports

Crooked Lake is back on Saturday

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

AFTER a year off, due to renovations, Crooked Lake race director Catherine Murphy told the Democrat she is delighted the event is back on. It takes place on Saturday (June 3) with a 2pm start.

She said: "It's great to see the buzz back around the lake and great to see so many people coming from far and near to swim, run and cycle in our beautiful area."

Catherine also said this year's race, despite it not being a National Series event, will be bigger and better than ever. She is hoping for numbers approaching 450.

The race has been running since 2003 and every year has increased in popularity, with huge crowds cheering on the triathletes. Each year the weather was excellent, apart from 2015 when it poured down. But Weather Woman Murphy has assured the Democrat she has had words with the Man Above to ascertain this won't happen again!

Catherine and her powerful organising committee that includes Patricia McParland, Padraig Mallon and members of both Carrickcruppen and Shane O'Neill's GAA clubs, would also like to thank her generous main sponsors First Derivatives, O'Brien's Sandwich Bar, Cathedral Eye Clinic, Synge and Byrne plus the Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

Anyway who will win the race? In the past there have been some top men and women participating, including Irish World Cup stars, Russell White, Conor Murphy, Ben Shaw and Aileen Reid. Though it's unlikely that any of that famed quartet will be competing this year.

However, the bookies favourite would surely be a former winner, Dundalk's Bryan McCrystal. The ex-Newry Town central defender is one of the planet's best triathlon bikers as he proved last year in the World Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

There McCrystal was mere seconds adrift of winner Jan Frodeno's bike time. The Dundalk man is far and away the top triathlon cyclist in the nation and has blitzed the tough Camlough course in 25 minutes. His swimming too has improved as in the recent Mallorca 70.3 Ironman he clocked 26 minutes for 1.9k. And Bryan can also run a bit.

It's going to be hard for anyone to beat him in Camlough but if anyone can, that man is Sean Featherstone. The former Mayobridge Football Championship winner holds the local 10-mile bike time trial record, is a fine swimmer and has speed to burn on the run. In fact Sean has already won a sprint distance race this year, Newtownabbey's Stena Triathlon.

Another local who will be hoping for a podium place is Finbar McGrady who is strong on all three disciplines while Sean McDonnell has improved in leaps and bounds this season. Expect zippy swimmer Conor Fabb to lead the charge out of the water while in the local Camlough/Bessbrook race the smart money would be on Setanta's Peter Tomany with Ciaran Hughes not far behind.

In the ladies race expect Rostrevor's Catherine Sands, who excels in all three disciplines, to feature strongly while local doctor Maria Byrne, should push her all the way. Others who should feature in the Ladies' race are top swimmer Colleen Mallon. Shauna Clements and Orlath McDonald.

Just like every other Crooked Lake race, there will be a host of triathlon novices preparing to plunge into the lake and sample the thrills only the Camlough race can provide. For motorists there will be traffic disruption around the lake so they should be prepared for hold-ups.

Should be a great day with great craic. But if you want to watch the race you'll need to arrive long before the 2pm start time - or face a bracing walk to the start.

Meanwhile the last of the Camlough Aquathons took place on Wednesday with top locals being Catherine Sands and Sean McDonnell. Mark McGivern, Niall McCarron, Jonny Gregg and Maria Byrne also did well.

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