Tralee's Vicky McCarthy wins inaugral Spirit of Triathlon Award

TI Awards 2017 - Spirit of Triathlon

Inaugural Winner

The Spirit of Triathlon Award was presented to Vicky McCarthy by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Triathlon Ireland Awards on Saturday, 18 November 2017. This is the first year of the award and it was created in order to reward those who truly embody the Spirit of Triathlon. The award criteria states that the winner must fit at least one of the following:

  • embodies the spirit of the sport, contributing with a selfless, inclusive attitude;
  • has achieved something extraordinary within or because of triathlon;
  • has overcome the odds to be involved in triathlon;
  • has inspired others to strive for their personal best within triathlon.

Vicky McCarthy - Run

Anyone who knows Vicky McCarthy would agree that she fits all of the above criteria. From the age of 10 and through her teen years, Vicky underwent three extensive surgeries to remove a brain tumour on her Pituitary Gland. In 2003, in between surgeries, she also suffered from meningitis. Vicky was given the all clear over ten years ago now however, she is still reliant on medication, suffers from fatigue and does not produce adrenaline. 

the triathlon journey

Vicky McCarthy - Swim Exit

As children, Vicky and her sister Leanne (who nominated Vicky for the award) were always brought swimming in the local pool. It was one thing that Vicky was able to do when she was not allowed to partake in any other sports or PE in school, once she did not get her head wet. When Tralee Triathlon Club was founded in 2009 and hosted a triathlon in Fenit, Vicky decided she wanted to have a go. Up to that point Vicky had been Leanne's biggest supporter on the triathlon circuit. She convinced her father Dan (himself an avid runner, having completed 25 Dublin Marathons over the years) to form a team with her. Dan would do the bike and the run while Vicky would complete the swim - something Dan couldn't do as, at that point, he was unable to swim. 

Vicky McCarthy - Family

In 2013 Vicky took on the challenge of completing a try-a-tri herself and succeeded! This left Dan with no swimmer so he learned how to swim and is himself now a Tralee Tri Club member and triathlete. She has never looked back and has completed many try-a-tris and 5km road races over the past few years.

Not only has Vicky overcome the odds to compete in triathlon, she is also incredibly supportive of her clubmates and involved in the New to Tri programme at Tralee Tri Club. She has spoken at the New to Tri meetings to encourage new members to join and is always inclusive of all members in the club.

Vicky McCarthy - Run2

ironman adventures

At the recent IRONMAN Barcelona - Vicky travelled over with her sister and clubmates and stood for the entire of the race with two signs. One read 'I trained to hold this sign' and the other 'Hurry up, my arms hurt!'. Her signs can be seen at many sprint, standard and middle distance races around the country where she travels to support her sister and her club.

VMcCarthy - Ironman

Sinead Stafford, one of Vicky's clubmates, simply couldn't imagine triathlon without Vicky as they go hand in hand. 

"She just  has this presence of happiness and joy. She is always the one person to encourage you no matter what and she's always helping out."

"I've never met anybody like her, there is nobody else like her, she's unreal."

Indeed, Vicky must be incredibly strong to compete in triathlon without the adrenaline so many of us rely on once race day comes. Her love of triathlon shines through in all of the photos that TI could find of Vicky. During every race she has a smile on her face, be it at the start of the race during the swim or at the end of the run.

Vicky McCarthy - Run Finish

Congratulations Vicky from all at Triathlon Ireland, and all the best for your future adventures in triathlon.