Preview: Middle Distance National Championships

Sheephaven Half_Swim Start

The country’s best middle distance athletes will line up at 7am tomorrow morning in the stunning setting of Downings Bay, Co Donegal to race for the title of Middle Distance National Champion.

Ahead of them will be a 1,900m swim, a 90km challenging bike course and finally a 21km run, all of which will decide the outcome of what promises to be a highly competitive race.

Apart from the coveted national title, the Sheephaven Triathlon will also deliver valuable points in round six of the BMW Triathlon National Series.

Below, we cover just some of the names to watch in the women’s and men’s field - in no particular order and with the warning that injuries and upsets are part and parcel of middle distance racing so there could well be some new faces featuring in the mix come race day.

Women’s Race

Heather Foley Wins City of Derry 2017

Heather Foley

Defending champion and multiple national title winner Heather Foley will start the women’s race as the overwhelming favourite. Foley started the season strong by winning the Duathlon National Championships in Sligo but since then has been relatively quiet with Sheephaven being her first BMW Triathlon National Series race of the season. 

Foley rarely comes to the start line in anything other than superb condition and is a famously tough competitor. Plus she has the experience of winning national titles at middle distance level numerous times.

Maeve Maher McWilliams Hook or by Crook 2019

Maeve Maher McWilliams

Maeve Maher McWilliams has been a consistent presence on the podium of the BMW NS in 2019.

Just two weeks ago, she won Bolands BMW Hook or by Crook Triathlon against a strong field which added to her victory at Standard distance in Lough Cutra and her second place finish at the season opener at Tri795 Carlow.

Ellen Murphy

Last year’s national champs runner up, Ellen Murphy has been a force to be reckoned with across all distances for almost a decade. Murphy most recently finished in third place at Bolands BMW Hook or by Crook but with her focus on middle distance racing in 2019, Murphy could well climb a few more steps up the podium,.

Laura Wylie Finish Line Glasgow 2018

Laura Wylie

The winner of last year’s Sheephaven Triathlon by a considerable distance, Laura Wylie will likely put her extremely strong swim-bike combination in to play in the year’s race. Wylie has represented Ireland at elite level and has numerous race victories to her name over the past years.   

Ellen Vitting

The overall winner of the BMW Triathlon National Series in 2018 and an athlete of extensive experience, Ellen Vitting has shown her form in 2019 with victory at The James McManus Memorial Triathlon and a third place finish at Tri795 in Carlow.

Kim Hickey

Kim Hickey has put in strong performances at the middle distance national champs over many years. Her form appears good thus year, with Hickey wining  Round 3 of the BMW Triathlon National Series at Crooked Lake. 


Jennifer Duffy

Third in the 2017 National Champs, and the winner at Lough Neagh last season, Jennifer Duffy is another athlete with the experience and ability to feature in Sheephaven.  

Sheephaven - Bike 2018

Men’s Race

With none of last year’s podium racing the National Championships tomorrow, a new men’s champion is going to the crowned tomorrow afternoon in Donegal following in the illustrious footsteps of Bryan McCrystal.

DCT 2016 Chris Mintern Finish

Chris Mintern

Multiple times national champion over sprint and standard distance, Chris Mintern leads a field that features none of last year’s Middle Distance podium. 

Mintern has raced for Ireland as an elite but for 2019 has switched his focus exclusively on middle distance racing.

The result has been an impressive 10th place IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau. Definitely the man to watch from the very start tomorrow.

Eoin Lyons Sligo SS

Owen Lyons

Owen Lyons most recent outing saw him finish the runner up to high performance athlete Kieran Jackson at Bolands BMW Hook or by Crook but in the process the middle distance specialist pushed the younger man all the way. Lyons has a string of results in the various editions of Triathlon Ireland Super Series and National Championships. In recent years he has focused on 70.3 races to great effect, giving the experience and ability to feature strongly in Donegal.

Kiely_Schull Fastnet 2018

Donnacha Kiely

The reigning BMW Triathlon National Series champion, Donnacha Kiely has been incredible consistent across sprint, standard and middle distance domestic racing for a number of years.

David Sheridan

Sheridan finished second in last year’s Sheephaven triathlon and wasn’t far from the podium at last year’s Middle Distance National Champs and has numerous middle and long distance results, not least a second place in the most challenging conditions of last year’s TriLimits middle distance race. 

Owen Martin

Owen Martin has raced an incredible nine times at the IRONMAN World Champs in Kona. His focus on the top long distance race in the world has meant that he perhaps doesn’t make as many domestic appearances but Martin has pedigree at middle distance having finished second in the 2015 national champs.

Brian Sexton Hardman Triathlon 2018

Brian Sexton

The reigning Long Distance National Championships for thee consecutive years, Brian Sexton has also achieved success over shorter distances.

Sexton won last year’s Sheeophaven Triathlon so will know well what it takes to come out on top in Donegal.

Other names to watch in the men’s field include Brendan Crawford, Stephen Donnelly, Peter Kern, Cillian Moffat and Conor Tiernan.

Race start is at 7am and you can watch all the action live on our facebook page