On Saturday October 13th 1,800 of the best long distance triathletes will line up in Kona, Hawaii for the Ironman World Championships. With the exception of a few celebrities and human interest stories each of the starting athletes, professional and amateur alike, will have earned their spot on the start line by qualifying at one of the twenty events held around the world. This year Ireland has eight athletes on the start line. Of these eight there is plenty of experience with four of them making their third trip to the Big Island, one on his second and three first timers.
First up is Skerries born, Wexford resident, Alan Ryan, whom has previously raced in 2008 and 2009 in Hawaii. Alan stamped his ticket at Germany’s Ironman Regensburg in June of this year, where he finished 3rd in his age group. Racing in the 45-49 category, Alan has the pedigree having taken 5th in his age group, thereby earning a podium spot, back in 2009.
Next up, making his third trip, is County Derry’s Ironman National Record Holder Martin Muldoon. Martin travelled to the US back in June getting his slot at the Lake Stevens Half Ironman held in Texas.
Owen Martin is the first of two Dundalk men racing in the world championships. Owen initially raced in Ironman Frankfurt in July but some medical issues saw him finish in the back of an ambulance.
Undaunted Owen headed to Canada in late August and got the qualification slot for the third year running.
Liam Dolan, racing with Phoenix Tri Club, is the second Dundalk man racing. Liam completed in Ironman Wisconsin in September 2011 & winning his age group at this late season race gave him a slot for the 2012 Championship. Liam competed in Hawaii in 2009 and 2010 previously.
London based Matt Molloy, having qualified at Ironman Lanzarote in May, will be making his second consecutive trip to race in Hawaii. A superstar swimmer Matt would be amongst the first age groupers out of the water.
Rob Cummins has been competing in ironmans for many years, racing around and finally achieved his goal of Kona Qualification in Ironman UK in July of this year. His qualification is testament to years of hard work and close calls at both ironman Florida and UK in the past.
Limerick Tri Club’s Mike O`Brian is another first timer. Mike raced superbly in the overbearing heat of Ironman Austria this July to gain his spot. Mike is doubling up, using the Kona race as a honeymoon, having being recently married!
Finally the baby of the party and sole female on the team is Ballina’s Sharon O`Hara. Sharon who races with Liquid Motion Tri Club, had the distinction of winning her age group at Ironman Frankfurt earlier this year. Hawaii will be only her second Ironman ever.
The individuals can all be followed on Facebook and their personnel blogs, for photos before, during and after the big dance!