Race Report: Bryan McCrystal's IRONMAN Cork

IM Cork 2019 - Mens Podium

In some of the toughest racing conditions, Ireland's national record holder Bryan McCrystal finished second at IRONMAN Cork on 23rd June. With the swim cancelled due to the weather conditions, McCrystal took the lead on the bike after a TT style start and held for much of the run until being passed by eventual winner Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee. 

Read his honest and interesting account of the day, reproduced with permission from Bryan's Facebook blog. You can follow Bryan McCrystal's journey on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.


So that happened... me, 2nd in Youghal.

Taking me a while to put into words what happened and how it did. . Its muddled and hard to process in my brain. Still is.

True story - I wasnt doing Youghal, although I registered I pulled out in my head a long time ago because I was in a bad place. Its something all us long distance athletes go through I think. I felt pressure to perform and I was an embarrassment to myself and sponsors in my preparation through the winter so each month I've been pushing the season back. Lanzarote was bad timing. In hindsight it was the best thing that ever happened to me, (getting injured that is) because it flicked a switch inside me and I've been tunnel vision since in training. I've been solid and consistent and stuck to what has worked in the past. It's been frustrating not seeing top numbers in training when the season is upon us but I made the bed so I can sleep in it.

Bryan McCrystal - IMCork 2019 Transition

Turning corners

2 weeks ago after one of my rides I knew I was going well. So I did a 10 TT on Warrenpoint to confirm it and I was right. It gave me great confidence. I'm talking bike here, swim and run are a slower burner for me.

Fast forward to Youghal - Was I negative towards the course beforehand? - yes, was I right? - yes. A pig was mentioned.... What disappointed me was the road surface. I know it's Ireland but if you're going to take us through farms the roads should be fit for cycling purpose. Local cycling clubs would avoid those roads for there Sunday spin, Fact! - (please correct me if I'm wrong). I thought to myself, If we get rain on Sunday its going to be sketchy. And we did... Ironman - if you're reading this.. keep the course but beg the council to fix the road. Properly

There is a God

Swim cancelled, Starting off on the bike and do the run. Happy days... If carlsberg did Ironmans...

Bryan McCrystal - IMCork2019 Bike

I did comment after the race that that was the best I ever felt in the water... My road head went straight on.. I looked up and down the line and you could see who wanted to be there and who didn't. What they wore or didn't wear were two contributing factors. #velorevolutiongotyoucovered

I saw Vanhoenacker with a baggy rain jacket and knee warmers. So in my mind I had 5-7 mins on him straight away. Brownlee had the right kit on and he is a hard nut anyway. My tactic was to go out hard and get to the front. I went into second pretty quick but didnt get into first until 100km or so. In front was a German, Markus Tomschke and he can ride a bike! but from the way I was riding I should have caught him alot earlier but i didnt. I was doing good numbers for me and I figured he went too hard. I was on it all day.. I never had one bad moment... well maybe on the second time up Windmill Hill and I thought one of the age groupers was gonna jackknife it infront of me. I guided the gentleman with my hand on his ass and he pm'd me after saying, it was like a hand from god helping him up the hill.. Someone else roared "Give it to the PIG, Give it to the PIG"

Run time

I had no idea of splits when I started running. The fact nobody was saying anything was worrying but all you can do in a marathon is your own race and what will be will be. First mile my back was stiff.. stopped briefly a few times but after about 5km it opened up and I felt really good. Better than I thought i would. I've been using Stryd running power and it really helped to stay consistent on the drags, tail and head winds. Splits were starting to come in but I only used one man as reference and I recognized him from the road circuit.. I'm sorry his name escapes me but thank you! I knew he'd be accurate. We were going well until the 3rd lap!!.. I never blew up or had a melt down. This gives me great confidence for the rest of the season. What got me was the lack of miles and some extra timber that needs to go. It'll happen...

Bryan McCrystal - IMCork Finish2

What got me around the road was the energy from the crowds. My name was called out with every stride I took.. "we're Proud of you" was shouted in my direction. That was huge.. huge. I met a local the following day while we took the kids for an ice cream (or rather Paul Dunne did.. thanks Paul) and he said there was a call put in to the locals that an Irishman was in front and to go out and shout him on. crazy..

I didn't win but to me finishing second was a win. There was no swim but look, you can only race who turns up and you can only tog out on the field your given.

Bryan McCrystal - IMCork 2019 Finish1

Running down that finish line was one of the proudest moments for me and my family. I was so proud and glad to have them there and to share it with them. Its not easy and I'm not flying every day of the week but the hardship and pain is worth it for moments like that.

I miss him.. my Dad, I wish he had of been there he would've loved it.

Keep the head the body will follow,