It started on 13th June last, a Saturday morning in Skerries…some say the birthplace of triathlons in Ireland. 28 years after the first triathlon was held here, Skerries has claimed another first!! The latest ‘wave’ to start in triathlons is AQUABIKE or AQUAVELO.  A two discipline event, it comprises of a swim followed by a cycle. 750m & 40km were the distances used in Skerries. With the jury still out on an agreed distance for future series, it seemed to provide enough of a test to attract a nice bunch of pioneers.

For me, one of the 31 starters on the day, it was a dream come through and the culmination of a difficult road, after being told my running days were over. The end of my involvement in Triathlons had looked real. I have been using these events as a means to stay fit. Mostly racing locally this was to be my seventh year competing here in Skerries. At 53 years of age I was unwilling to accept this as the end of my road with Multi-Sports! Being a bit stubborn I was not taking it lying down … an essential trait in these circles I’ve come to realise!!

My knees basically had had enough…. cartilage worn away and on the verge of serious long term damage, I was restricted to my bike and one of my great loves , swimming. Both Eanna Falvey from the Sports Surgery Clinic and Cathy Tyndall from Skerries Physiotherapy had been singing the same tune for a couple of years. I finally had to face facts. Running was a No-No!

What was I to do? ….Dust down my old golf clubs….. Join a darts club …buy a few box sets…..Not me … well not yet!!… I loved the buzz of a tri event…. the logistics of the gear.. the transitions …. the completeness of the test of all round fitness.. The banter… the competition … the stories that are afterwards swapped….. And the training to stay fit for the great goal that these events provide!!

There must be somewhere out there with a ‘non-running’ Multi-Sport?!

And thankfully ……there was!!…and where else but in the United States.

They have been running AQUABIKE over there for almost a decade now and its growing year on year. Guys are not retiring from triathlons, they’re merely changing over. Guys and gals who cannot run are involved.. Top cyclists who can swim are getting hooked, as well as swimmers who can manage a cycle. In fact what is happening is that some newcomers are using Aquabike as their gateway into the sport.

At the Skerries event, winner John Howlett, blasted the field apart with a great time of 1 hour 15 minutes. John, from Naas triathlon Club and one of our top triathletes, elected to avoid the run as he was recovering from a minor injury. This is another great advantage to this the newest pairing to join the Multi-Sport family. Could this ever be you?

The lads and lassies at Fingal Triathlon Club need to take a huge bow for running Irelands first Aquabike. To quote David Milne, instrumental in the clubs leap of faith, “it was a seamless addition to our ever growing yearly event in Skerries” And he followed “we recommend clubs adopt this wave to increase participation and options for athletes.“

So in signing off, just ponder the scenario for yourself. Ponder too for your buddies who may feel excluded because they cannot run. Big is beautiful when it comes to these events and its better all-round if we reach out to more people and attract them into the great world of Multi-Sports. Be a part of History. Ask for the inclusion of the “Aquabike Wave” at your club’s Triathlon …NOW !!!

Kevin O’Sullivan… Ex-Triathlete-AQUABIKER