It is a rarely challenged Irish record for obviously enduring reasons and now Aichlinn O’Reilly has taken it to new territory, the first Irish man to break the eight-hour barrier for the Ironman triathlon distance.
Competing at the Busselton Ironman in Western Australia, O’Reilly placed sixth best overall with his time of seven hours, 59 minutes, and four seconds, beating several seasoned Ironman professionals in the process.
The 28-year-old from Westport, who recently relocated to Perth, took on the famed three classic distances, completing the 3.9km swim in 47 minutes and 46 seconds, cycling the 180.2km in four hours, 11 minute and 31 seconds, the finishing off with a sub three-hour marathon, running two hours, 54 minutes and 13 seconds.
With that he broke the existing Irish men’s Ironman record of 8:07:37 set by Bryan McCyrstal from Dundalk, better known as a cycling specialist, set when finishing eighth best in the Challenge Roth event in German back in 2018.
For O’Reilly, a former member of Westport Triathlon Club who has been competing in the sport since age 15, it was reward for some seven weeks of full-time training ahead of the event, having first made plans to challenge for the record a year ago, without any professional support or funding.
“He has worked so hard with very little support,” said his partner Maeve Curley. “And has made many sacrifices to get to this point, off his own back, and this is only the beginning.”
At the scenic Busselton Ironman event, Daniel Baekkegard and Fenella Langridge both took outright wins in course record times, Baekkegard from Denmark winning the men’s event in 7:34:23, a race that featured 23 professionals from seven countries, before Britain’s Langridge won the women’s event in 8:29:43.