BY KIERAN McCARTHY
GARRY Minihane openly admits it was one of the hardest sporting events he has ever competed in – but he survived and finished Ireland’s first full distance Ironman to tell the tale.
The Skibbereen man was one of 2,600 brave souls who battled the torrential rain in Youghal on Sunday week. The weather was so bad that organisers were forced to cancel the swim race so the Ironman was reduced to a 112km bike race and 26.2 mile run.
‘It was one of the toughest things that I have ever taken part in, both physically and mentally, mainly due to the horrific weather we encountered,’ Garry explains.
Having competed in his first Ironman event in Barcelona in October 2017, he didn’t have to travel that far for his second, and the 50-year-old has plenty of memories – including some very cold and wet ones – to look back on.
‘It was one of the greatest feelings I had crossing the line after competing in what was described as one of the toughest Ironman events ever,’ says Garry, who works as a paramedic with the HSE.
‘We faced into torrential rain and strong winds for the 180km cycle. It was a tough gruelling course with over 1,900 metres of climbing.
‘We hopped off the bike after over seven hours and had to face into a 42km run, again into the driving rain and winds.
‘It was cold, wet and miserable. It was a test of mental strength to get through it, but once I reached 37 kilometres, adrenaline kicked in. The last five kilometres through the streets was unbelievable with family and friends, who had travelled up, cheering us on.
‘Running down the red carpet and hearing them say you are an Ironman for a second time was something special.’
The cycle included the epic Windmill Hill which was lined with thousands of people cheering on the competitors.
‘That was something really special. It was like cycling up one of those tough hills you see the Tour De France. It was gruelling,’ Garry adds.
He’ll take a well-earned rest now before deciding what his next adventure will be.