BMW Triathlon National Series: Crooked Lake Triathlon The third round of the BMW Triathlon National Series took place at Crooked Lake Triathlon this past weekend with Kim Hickey and James Walton winning the women's and men's races. With thanks to Tony Bagnall for the following race report.Joy at the Crooked Lake The joy was written all over their faces as the Crooked Lake conquerors crossed the finish line. They had given everything. They had battled through 750-metres of cold, cold water, they had climbed the alpine-like hills around the lake and finished the gruelling five-kilometre hilly run. It was tough. It was energy-sapping. But that finish line brought water-from-Lourdes-type cures.It was ‘never again’ as they crossed that line. But 10-minutes later the pain was forgotten and replaced with ‘I’m going to train harder next year. I’m going to take 10 minutes off my time.’However, the 2019 Crooked Lake men’s race winner James Walton, who posted up an amazing 57.08, won’t take ten minutes off his time. The Triangle triathlete was streets ahead as he exited the water in a fantastic 9.51 and he increased his time with the fastest bike ride of the day, a blistering 27.04 which was close to a course record. Furthermore James finished with an excellent 18.50 for the five kilometre plus run. And in the last discipline, when he could have eased off, there were only two runners who went quicker… and then by mere seconds and one of those runners was in a relay team.Noel Kavanagh was second in 60.14, over three minutes adrift, while Lochlainn Connolly was third in 60.35.The women’s race was won by Kim Hickey in 1.07.00 with Fiona Murphy second in 1.08.55 while Newry Tri Club’s Catherine Sands, who had won the race for the past two years, finished third.As usual race director Catherine Murphy spoke to the man above to ensure the sun shone for the Crooked Lake competitors and as usual the crowds turned up, in their hundreds, to watch what is surely one of the great sprint triathlons in the nation – one with the best scenery and one with a magnificent atmosphere. And of course, there was that challenging course.Catherine Murphy was really pleased at how things had gone as she said: “We’re delighted at how the day went. The weather turned our way. “But I would like to thank the dozens and dozens of volunteers who help us every year. And a huge thanks to our sponsors First Derivatives, the Newry, Mourne and Down Council, Synge and Byrne, who put up a beautiful spread of food for us, the Cathedral Eye Clinic who have given us two top class sets of running glasses for the male and female prize-winners, and PM Safety. “We couldn’t do the race without our volunteers and sponsors. Everyone seems to have had a good day. South Armagh looks beautiful and we’re delighted everything turned out fine.”Lorraine McKeown, who took care of all the race entries, endorsed what Catherine Murphy had said: “We had 400 individual entries and 19 relay teams with everything going well. The weather was excellent and the Crooked lake always gets a good crowd.” age group winnersRostrevor’s Peter McConville (1.04.32) was the first Newry Tri Club member across the line in 14thplace (second in his 50-54 age group), Camlough’s Barry Loughran was three places adrift (third in his age-group in 1.05.07) with Wayne Graham clocking up 1.06.42 and Oliver Harkin squeezing into the top 30 in 1.07.10. Other locals to grab high places were Mark McGivern (1.07.53), Adrian McGreevy (1.08.05), Brian Muckian (1.09.12), Jonny Gregg (1.12.20), Peter Cowan (1.13.05) and Paul Watters (1.13.14).Local age group winners included Ryan Jackson (1.12.01: third in the 25-29 age group), Fiona O’Neill (1.27.15: third in the 50-54 age group), Siobhan Greer (1.32.47: first in the 60-64 age group), Gerry Patton (1.44.50: second in the 65-69 age group) and Mickey Mallon (1.29.32: second in the 70-74 age group).However, the big winners on the day were the first-time triathletes. Foremost of these was Aodhan Moan who posted up a stunning 1.15.11. Others who had super races were Gavin Murtagh, David Convery, Owen Tipping, Peter Gallagher, Barry O’Hare, Damian Kilgallon, Laura Reel, Vicky Kelly, Michelle Rooney, Pauline Sheehan, Tish Gorman, Brian Murphy, Chris Bowker, Shauna O’Grady, Ciaran O’Grady, Damian Kearney, Larry Murphy, Peadar Jackson, Karen Lewis, Rafal Tobik and Sinead Lowder.And a special mention must go to the Ballyholland duo Ronan Murtagh and Damian McCrink who both performed brilliantly. Ex Down star Ronan posted up a class 1.13.36 in only his second triathlon while debutant and Ballyholland manager Damian wasn’t far behind in 1.18.03.