Ballyclare’s James Cleland has reached the podium in one of the world’s most gruelling endurance events.
A member of Antrim’s Hi-Elbow Triathlon Club, Cleland competed in the inaugural Challenge Galway on Sunday, an iron-distance triathlon. Consisting of a 2.4-mile open water swim in Oranmore, a 112-mile cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way, then a 26.2-mile marathon around Galway city, Cleland looked in fine form throughout the race.
Exiting the choppy swim within the top 20 in 57 minutes, it wasn’t until he was on the cumbersome cycle he began to make his move up the field. Completing the bike leg in five-and-a-half hours after being battered by wind and rain coming in from the Atlantic, he then moved on to the marathon. By this stage, Cleland was sitting in third, a position he managed to hold onto across the next 26 miles.
Ultimately crossing the finish line in 10 hours 11 minutes, Cleland’s overall third – and age group win – has netted him qualification to next year’s ‘The Championship’, Challenge’s global event, in Slovakia.
Speaking after the race, an exhausted Clelland said: “I felt strong throughout the race, especially on the bike, but I knew I still had a marathon to complete after it. It was important not to over-cook the bike leg or the first half of the marathon. Now that it’s over, I feel tired!”