Cork Ironman forced to scrap swim but former top Irish cyclist excels

Posted on: June 23rd, 2019
Cork Ironman was forced to call off the swim leg as the weather made it unsafe. However, it went ahead with the bike leg and run. Former top Irish cyclist Bryan McCrystal put in a huge shift; as he normally does. He embraced the conditions and took a great result.

The inclement Irish weather forced the organisers of the first ever Ironman event in Ireland to call off the swim.

Instead the Cork Ironman triathlon became a duathlon, with the field starting their race on the bike and concluding with the run.

Alistair Brownlee, one of the global legends of the three-discipline sport, was the clear winner of the men’s event as expected.

However, in 2nd place was a man whose name will be well known to many stickybottle readers; Bryan McCrystal.

Louth man McCrystal was one of the best bike riders in the country for many seasons before switching back to Ironman.

And today while Britain’s Brownlee took the spoils, Irish national record-breaker McCrystal claimed the runner-up spot.

He crossed the line in Youghal, Co Cork, on a day when the finishers were walking wound, in the silver medal position some 5:39 down on Olympic champion Brownlee.

McCrystal was the fastest on the bike leg, no small thing, in a time of 4:36:15 for the 112-mile distance.

And while he was caught and passed on the 26.2 mile run, on a day all the competitors won’t forget, it was a great performance by the Irishman.

Since he has left aside his road race days, his sister Eve McCrystal has really taken up the family name and added to it in the cycling world.

A Paralympic champion as sighted pilot with Katie George Dunlevy on their tandem, Eve McCrystal is national elite road race champion and has won most of the biggest one day races in the country.

Today Bryan McCrystal added to his Ironman story with a big chapter, proving the athlete in the international field to press Brownlee closest.

However, he would have relished the chance to compete over the full distance had the Irish summer weather cooperated for even one day to make the swim possible.

Still, in the pro men category Bryan McCrystal’s time of 7:49:55 was 8:15 faster than the next man home; Germany’s Markus Thomschke.

In 4th place, exactly 10 minutes later, was the America athlete Justin Metzler. And just 35 seconds after him came Belgium’s Seppe Odeyn.

In the women’s race two of the pre-race favourites Linsey Corbin of the USA and German Anja Ippach failed to finish; the conditions taking their toll on them.

Ippach completed the bike leg but abandoned early in the run after being passed by Swiss athlete Emma Bilham.

Just as McCrystal flew the flag so well for Ireland in the men’s race, so too did Michelle Heneghan who took 4th in the women’s event.

It was won by the aforementioned Bilham in a time of 8:50:18, just seconds short of a half hour up on runner-up Pleuni Hooijman of the Netherlands.

Amanda Wendorff of the USA was 3rd, almost 38 minutes down on the winner.

She was followed by Heneghan, almost one hour down on the flying Bilham.

The time gaps offered some indication of the impact the conditions had on the racing.

Thankfully the event will be held at least two more years in Youghal meaning the Irish weather will get another two chances to tow the line.