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Challenge At Lough Cutra Castle

Jacqui Slack

Jacqui Slack

Part of the attraction at the inaugural Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon is the international challenge race between Great Britain and Ireland. The Great Britain team of three elite triathletes (Jacqui Slack, Doug Hall and Mark Threlfall) will be a tough challenge for the home athletes. The Irish team for the event which takes place on Sunday 3rd June in Gort, Co. Galway will be announced next week.

It’s an action packed day for the triathletes, starting early in the morning with the elite athletes in the Olympic length race; they’ll be in the lake at 8am! Next is the Mid-Distance followed by the Sprint. In the afternoon, the junior races kick off. The three junior races are named after birds on the Castle estate – Teal (13-15), Cormorant (11-12) and Widgeon (8-10). Don’t miss the Widgeons plunging bravely into the lake at around 2.30pm.

Around 120 competitors are winging their way from the UK to take part. The weekend coincides with Bank Holidays in both the UK and Ireland with the UK one being a double bank holiday due to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It is also the first weekend of the UK school half term.

All races at Lough Cutra Castle start by launching into an open water swim in the Castle lake, transitioning into the technical cycle route that circumnavigates Lough Cutra itself in a 20KM loop. There will be one cycle lap for the Sprint and two laps for both the Mid and Olympic distances. Similarly, the run passes through the stunning estate grounds and deer park and has one lap for the Sprint and two laps for the Mid-Distance and Olympic races. The race culminates with a sprint through the grand stables and down the main drive to the finish in front of Lough Cutra Castle itself.

Things are really hotting up at Lough Cutra Castle in Gort for their first ever Triathlon. It’s not just for athletes though – everyone is invited along to enjoy the atmosphere and join in the fun. It’s a great day out for all the family, and the sun will shine too – we promise! Traditional pipers will officially start the races from the Castle turrets and music from Bring Your Sisters will rock the venue during the day. Entertainment and fun is the name of the game. The prize giving will be around 4pm.

It’s not too late to enter – either as an individual or as part of a relay team (a nice way to dip your toe in the triathlon water for the first time). Race distances and times vary according to age and standard, ranging from The Widgeons who do a 100m swim, 4km cycle and 1.3km run, right up to three adult distances, the top one being the Olympic (1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run).

Castle owners, the Gwyn-Jones family, are in training to compete the triathlon in relay to raise funds for charity. Son, Rollo, will start off in the water, followed by Mum, Susannah, who will do the cycle leg. She will be followed up by son Dominic, who will run the final leg. Families taking part in triathlons together is a growing trend.

Lough Cutra Castle is located just outside Gort in Co. Galway and the entire race takes place within the 1600 acre estate. The swim is in the Castle lake, the cycle route is a scenic tour around the lake and woodland while the run takes place over tracks and private roads, finishing with a sprint through the grand stables and down the main drive to the finish in front of Lough Cutra Castle itself.

Lough Cutra Castle is the fifth venue to join the unique Markel Castle Triathlon Series which combines the challenge of triathlon racing with the culture and history of famous castles and their grounds. It includes three other castles in England and a chateau in France. The decision to bring the increasingly popular series to Ireland recognises the growing popularity of the sport here. It also fits in with Tourism Ireland’s strategy to market the West of Ireland as an unrivalled adventure sport destination.

Historic Lough Cutra Castle offers a surprising variety of options for anyone wishing to experience it. The entire Castle sleeps 16 (and seats 160 for dinner) and is available for events such as corporate gatherings, private celebrations or parties (minimum 2 nights). Quality catering, staffing and activities (clay pigeon shooting, archery, hawkwalk, ghillie fishing etc.) can be included. Nearby in the Castle courtyards, three charming self catering cottages (sleeping 23) are also available for rent. The 1600 acre woodland estate includes scenic Lough Cutra Lake, which at 4km long is the largest privately owned lake in Europe. Lough Cutra is a proven venue for music festivals and as a film location.

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