Pictured at the 2012 Waterways Ireland TriAthlone Launch was Kathryn Thomas Brand Ambassador for RESPECT with Irish 2012 Olympic Triathlete, Gavin Noble. 7 years, 14,000 participants and 10million generated for local business make triAthlone Ireland's largest triAthlone. Taking place on Saturday 30th June Limited registration is still available for 2012 event at www.triathlone.com
The countdown to the seventh annual Waterways Ireland triAthlone is well and truly underway.
The popular medley of swimming, cycling and running usually takes place in the town in early July, but this year's event is happening slightly earlier, on Saturday week, June 30.
The renowned Irish triathlete Gavin Noble, who will be competing in the Olympics in London, joined TV personality Kathryn Thomas and Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, at the official launch of the event in Dublin last week.
The organisers are expecting over 2,000 people to take part this year - underlining the event's status as Ireland's biggest triathlon.
"Preparations are going well," said chief organiser Liam Heavin yesterday (Tuesday). "We could do with a few more volunteers who can help out on the day, and we'd be grateful if they could contact us, but the numbers signing up to take part have been pretty good. There's always a rush to sign up in the two weeks or so leading up to the event and we've had nearly 200 people registering over the last week."
Last year's triAthlone - which started at 3pm on a Saturday and concluded that evening - caused less traffic disruption than in previous years. This year's races will follow a similar timetable, and the organisers have printed some 2,000 traffic management flyers which are due to be distributed to the affected homes and businesses over the coming week.
The race categories at triAthlone 2012 include Try-A-Tri (which is aimed at novices), Sprint Distance and Olympic Distance. Perhaps not surprisingly in an Olympic year, the Olympic Distance race is set to be the biggest seen in Athlone to date, with over 900 signing up to take part.
"I think that's a reflection of the triathlon community, if you want to call it that, maturing a bit. We've developed a regular, mature group of athletes who in many cases have been taking part each year and are looking for a challenge," said Liam.
The event will also include Ireland's first ever paratriathlon championships for physically challenged athletes. Visually impaired competitors and upper and lower limb amputees are due to take part in the paratriathlon race.
A limited number of places for the triAthlone events are still available, and prospective participants are asked to visit www.triathlone.com for more details.
Speaking at the event's launch last week, Gavin Noble, who competed in each of the Waterways Ireland triAthlone events to date and won titles in 2006, 2007 and 2011, said: "I am delighted to be at the 2012 launch of Waterways TriAthlone to support the team and thank them for all the support received over the years."
Gavin will be unable to take part in this year's triAthlone due to his preparations for the Olympic games. Aileen Morrison - who achieved success at triAthlone events over the years - is also preparing for the Olympics.
Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD said: "I am always delighted to launch events such as this.
As a former county footballer I have a keen interest in all things sporting and I actively encourage as many people as possible to keep fit and active.
"Events such as this triAthlone provide a tremendous opportunity to the local community to support all the participants in the event and some may consider registering and taking part in the future. Great credit is due to the organizers who work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that TriAthlone is a success for participants, spectators and local businesses."
The nominated charity to benefit from this year's event is RESPECT - which supports people with intellectual disabilities - and Kathryn Thomas is among those who will be taking part to help raise money for this good cause.