Finbar is Top of the Mourne favourite

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Finbar is Top of the Mourne favourite thumbnailTRIATHLETES about to get in some last minute sea swimming at Rostrevor before Saturday's tough Top of the Mourne Olympic distance Triathlon.

FINBAR McGrady looks a sound bet to win Saturday's Top of the Mourne Triathlon.

The tall doctor is in the form of his life. He was second in June's Crooked Lake sprint Triathlon, beaten only by former professional Bryan Mc- Crystal, and since the he has surpassed that Camlough performance by picking up a brilliant fourth place in the European Championships in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Finbar is good at all three disciplines but no doubt he won't have things all his own way in the gruelling Mourne Olympic race that kicks off on Saturday, July 8 at 11am.

Last year's race winner and perennial Kona competitor Owen Martin hasn't entered the race as we go to press but even without the dedicated Silverbridge triathlete, there are still plenty of talent in the field - for example Camlough's Peter Tomany who races in the Setanta colours, Belfast duo Irvine Bryce and former Democrat photographer Peter Morrison plus Peter Savage a former Crooked Lake winner.

Then there's the Newry Triathlon club's Kona-bound Oliver Harkin, Mickey Havern, so powerful on the bike, Peter McConville back in action after a broken arm, the consistent Mark McGivern and the fast-running Brian Farrell.

In the women's field there's Ann Marie Featherstone, who took second spot in Blackrock recently, bike demon Ciara Havern, Maria Byrne, fast in the water, and multi-Ironman finisher Sheena Dullaghan.

Plenty of talent in the field, but the Top of the Mourne event is no stroll in the park. It is nationally recognised as being the toughest Olympic distance race in the country and it will push every competitor to his or her limit. The course boasts fantastic routes and testing trails as well as spectacular views.

The first leg, a 1500-metre swim, will take place in Carlingford Lough, opposite Kilbroney, then it's a 40k bike ride towards Kilkeel before turning left to Atticall and a lung-bursting seven-mile mountainous climb to Spelga. After negotiating the dangerous S-bends on the way down from the dam, it's a steady climb to Santa's Cottage before dropping into Rostrevor where the triathletes will then take on the third discipline, a 10k run - and what a run.

Many will feel they have completed the toughest part of the course with the bike leg behind them but in reality the run leg is just as tough - and perhaps even tougher. There's not a flat bit on the six plus miles with some seemingly vertical up-hill sections and gravity-defying down-hills. But at the end most will agree that it is a terrific experience to take on - and conquer the Mournes.

Closing dates for entries is today (Tuesday) so if you haven't submitted an entry form, do so right away or you will miss an opportunity to participate in one of the best races in the nation


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