Guest Article: Darren Dunne Completes 5 European Races in 5 Weeks

Antwerp ITU World Cup_Darren Dunne

In the final installment of his blog posts, triathlete Darren Dunne travels from Belgium to Holland to complete the fifth race of his trip.

After Antwerp I was pretty much dead for 2 days. I don’t remember doing anything other than sleeping. I was a bit nervous because I had a lot of people telling me that 5 races in 5 weeks was way too much, but I felt I’d be fine. Once I got to Wednesday though I felt pretty good again and ready to rock for race number 4.

Wuustwezel is a little Belgian town to the north of Antwerp so it was just a short drive from where I was staying. It’s the hometown of Marten Van Riel who is currently 19th on the ITU World Rankings so there was a cool buzz around the place since he was racing. It ended up being a very high-quality race at the top with a lot of Americans, kiwis and Aussies based in Europe making the short trip to race.

2018 Wuustwezel ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup

The race itself was based around the town centre with an 8pm start time! I found the swim a bit hard because the sun was pretty low at this stage so I couldn’t really see where I was going. Running through transition and seeing the place nearly empty is generally an absolute disaster but I was with one of my Belgian friends called Tim who is an Uber biker so I was confident we could bike through a few groups. We ended up with the two fastest bike splits of the day after biking ourselves up to the front of the race.

The run was three loops around the town centre again and there was a big crowd out at this stage after Belgium won their World Cup game. I felt I ran pretty strong and I managed to pass 3 or 4 guys in the sprint which doesn’t usually happen me so I was happy with that. The fact that I ran 16:14 for 5.28k (=15:20 for 5k) and ended up 14th shows the standard we have to compete with when racing abroad!

Last stop - holland

From here I ended up moving to Holland for the last week of my trip with two of the guys from New Zealand. We moved to Holten which is where my final race was. It was my fourth year in a row in Holten but my first time actually exploring the place. It ended up being a perfect location with run trails and a pool on site and a forest with some climbing a short spin away. The guys are really chill so it was a really good week of training.

Long story short, I had a really good start at the swim this time, and then proceeded to implode and then explode over the course of the next 200 meters. Woops. Thankfully I held it together somewhat ended up 20th out of the water which is a new PB position, and I was with a couple of good bikers so we caught up to the little group ahead quick enough and then it was just a case of waiting for the run.

I left T2 mid pack and had a really strong first kilometre to move up nicely. From there I was running with one of the guys I had trained with in Leeds from Bermuda and some Italian guy fighting for 10th place. I gave it absolutely everything I had to get 10th. It would be nice to come home with a top 10 and a little bit of prize money but it wasn’t to be. Still chuffed with 12th, my best ITU result to date. I put a good swim-bike-run together so it’s a race I can be proud of no matter where I finished.

Holten is a premium race, so a step above continental cups but below world cups, which meant there were more points on offer for it. After my trip I’m now ranked 291st on the World rankings and 6th (waiting for this to be updated but I think my maths is correct) on the domestic European rankings. It was a really successful trip and I enjoyed every second of it.

up next

Up next for me is another block of 5 races in 5 weeks, starting this weekend in Lanesborough at the Super Series race before heading to Estonia for my first Senior European Championships! A big thanks to everyone who has and still is making my season possible, Triathlon Ireland, Nenagh Triathlon Club, Kinetica Sports, The University of Limerick, my training group in Limerick and countless others.

Happy racing,

Thanks to Darren for sharing his journey over the past number of weeks. You can click the links below to read Darren's other articles.