Maltha and Donegan Win Lost Sheep National Champs Charles Maltha and Aine Donegan have been crowned the 2017 National Middle Distance Champions with victory at the Lost Sheep Triathlon in Kerry.Maltha took his second victory at the famously gruelling race in Kenmare, while Donegan claimed her win in her debut performance.Bryan McCrystal was second in the men’s race, ahead of Aichlinn O’Reilly, while in the women’s race, Sinead Lynch took the silver medal with Jennifer Duffy netting bronze.How The Race UnfoldedMore than 400 athletes lined out one of the season’s final races in a single massed start in Kenmare Bay. Conditions were perfect with little or no wind, dry roads and just a slight nip in the air.Aichlinn O’Reilly and Owen Cummins were first out of the water following the 1,900m swim with a 2mins lead over their nearest competitors. First woman out of the water was local athlete Rachel Hawker with Amy O’Keeffe 2nd and Lorna Wolfe in third.On the bike, former winner Bryan McCrystal put in his now customary come-form-behind performance to pass the entire field and take the lead by the 40km mark.He came in to T2 with a substantial 4min lead over 2nd placed athlete Charles Maltha and 3rd placed Aichlinn O’Reilly.At this stage, it looked as if McCrystal was on course for his second Lost Sheep victory but before the run had reached the 10km mark all was changed utterly with Maltha putting in the run performance of the day to close in and then pass McCrystal.From this point he never looked back as he gapped the Drogheda man and powered to the finish line, crossing the clear winner in a time of 4hrs 8mins and 21secs.He said afterwards that he didn’t expect to overhaul McCrystal with such a large gap heading on to the run.“It was always the plan to try to run him down, my expectations were if I could catch him with three minutes to go or four minutes...but at the 10km mark I overtook him and put in an effort to run past him and try and make it look easy even thought I was grinding my teeth and every muscle was hurting."Maltha continued: "From there it was just trying to bring it home and everything kilometre saying to myself, maybe I can hold him off and slowly the belief started growing.”Bryan McCrystal crossed the line 6mins after Maltha to take second place, just ahead of a fast finishing Aichlinn O’Reilly one minute further back.Donegan Wins First National TitleMeanwhile out on the course, Aine Donegan was putting her stamp firmly on the women’s field, coming in to T2 more than 6mins ahead of the next nearest competitor. A fresh looking Donegan crossed the line to win her first national title.“I felt really good on the run. I stuck to the plan on the bike and tried not to go too hard on the hills and really enjoyed it. I’ve never been national champ before so I am delighted.”Behind her Olympic rower Sinead Lynch moved through the field on the bike and run to claim second place with Jennifer Duffy completing a great comeback year to triathlon by taking third.Results and PicturesProvisional Results are now available and keep an eye on our Facebook page where a gallery of hundreds of images from the day will be published.