Duathlon National Championships - Men's Preview

With the introduction of draft-legal racing for the first time ever in a National Duathlon Championships, this weekend's race on the closed roads of Mondello race circuit promises to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable races in recent memory.

Both the men's and women's fields are packed with fast athletes of different strengths, setting up a series of fascinating battles.

We will preview the women's race tomorrow, but in the meantime here's our look at some of the favourites in the men's field for the 2016 Duathlon National Championships.

Bryan McCrystal Lost Sheep 2015

Bryan McCrystal

Most eyes in the men's race will be on Irish Ironman record holder Bryan McCrystal.

McCrystal broke the Irish Long Distance record at Ironman Barcelona last year with a time of 8:41:29. Less than two months later, he reduced this record further at Ironman Arizona by finishing in a time of 8:30:50.

Primarily however, McCrystal is known for his prowess on the bike and in recent years has become one of the country's top domestic cyclists. Just last weekend, he added a stage win and a third place overall at the Rás Mumhan to his long list of accolades.

Although clearly no slouch when it comes to the run leg, the draft legal format of this weekend's race throws up the intriguing prospect of the former professional footballer using his power on the bike in a bid to break clear of his competitors. The question will be, can any of them hold on to his wheel and take advantage of the pace he sets?

Chris Mintern at Moby Dick

Chris Mintern

Triathlon Ireland development athlete Chris Mintern is another man who has had a busy winter, winning all four of the duathlons he has entered so far this year. The Cork based student had a strong triathlon season in 2015, winning the Tri-Athy Super Series race and finishing in third place at the National Olympic Distance Championships at DCT. Mintern has long been a member of Leevale running club and will be one to watch from the gun.

Kieran Jackson Carrick on Suir

Kieran Jackson

Another member of the TI development squad and another athlete who has made a habit of winning this year so far. 20-year-old Kieran Jackson warmed up for this weekend's race with victory at the Naas Duathlon last week. He spent part of this winter training with Elite athletes Bryan Keane and Russel White in Spain and should be going in to Saturday's race in good form. 

Letterkenny Duathlon 2016 Men's Podium

Killian Heery

Killian Heery (above left) will line out on Saturday as the defending champion. He finished in 2nd place at the Letterkenny duathlon earlier this year and as one of the stronger bikers in the field could make things interesting if he manages to use this to his advantage during the 40km bike leg.

Aichlinn O'Reilly 2015

Aichlinn O'Reilly

Still just 19 years old, Aichlinn O'Reilly is building an impressive list of results for himself. Last summer he won his local Westport Triathlon and finished in 2nd place behind Elite athlete Bryan Keane at Hell of the West. O'Reilly has also been spending a lot of time on the bike - racing for his local club covey Wheelers.

John Greaney

John Greaney

The current leader of the Duathlon National Series, with two victories under his belt this year, John Greaney will be conscious that with extra points on offer, a good performance at the National Championships could see him cement his grip on the overall series title. 

Ennis Duathlon 2015

Others to watch

Relative new-comer, Eamonn Staunton from Westport Triathlon club won the 1st Naas Duathlon race of 2016. Just last weekend he won the Kilmovee 10km in a blistering 32:50 making him one of the favourites to upset the established order.

UCD student Cian O'Reilly won the 2nd instalment of the Naas Duathlon Series back in February, becoming the reigning intervatsiyties champion in the process and is definitely one to watch.

The Belpark Triathlon Club gang-of-four of Liam Dunne, Dave Power, Brendan Murphy and Kevin Donagher will all be hoping to use their fast running ability in this weekend's race. After taking an extended break from triathlon, Liam Dunne announced his come back with 3rd place in last week's Naas Duathlon.

Dunne won the National Duathlon Championships in 2006 and in recent years has developed in to an impressive runner, making him one to watch coming out of T2.

Power finished in third place at the recent 25km Wicklow Way trail race while the introduction of draft legal racing will play in to Murphy's abilities off the bike.

Donagher is one of the most experienced duathletes in the whole field and has raced internationally in the elite-level Powerman Series.  

Bernard McCullagh from GoTri finished just off the podium in last year's National Duathlon Champs and and is particularly fast over shorter distances.

22-year-old Gavin Corey is in a similar position to John Greaney. He currently lies in second place in the Duathlon National Series, just 150 points off the lead. A good performance in the National Championships could see him leap-frog in to 1st place.

You can follow all the action from the duathlon championships live from the Triathlon Ireland twitter feed.

It's still not too late to get an entry for the duathlon champs but don't delay - the deadline is midnight on Thursday March 31st.