The Olympics, the World Cup and the Masters are big sporting competitions, but these little games are nothing compared to this summer’s big rivalry, where the four main media outlets in Cork go head to head in a triathlon relay.
The Irish Examiner, RedFM, The Echo and 96FM are taking on the challenge of the King of The Hill Sprint Triathlon taking place at Dock Beach in Kinsale on Saturday, July 27.
Four teams of three will be competing in a 750m swim, a 23km cycle and a very hilly 5km run to the finish line to find out who will take the title of Cork’s fittest media outlet back to the office.
A healthy respect for the competition is always a good thing, but putting four media outlets head to head in a race and I think it’s possible, you have created a monster.
Leading the charge is captain of the Irish Examiner Peter Walsh who said his team of Assistant Production Editor Eoin O’Sullivan and Senior News Reporter Stephen Rogers, is gunning for The Echo.
"We might share a building but we still compete in the same markets. There is always a competitive atmosphere. Also I reckon we could get at least three months bragging rights in the office!”
96FM’s captain and senior news reporter Fiona Corcoran, who is doing the run for her team which consists of newsreader and presenter of the Arts House Pearse McCarthy (cycling) and sales representative Jude O’Callaghan (swimming) said she will accept nothing less than victory on the day.
“I want to beat all of them!”
Captain of the RedFM team Fiona O’Donovan said her team, which is made of RedFM CEO Diarmuid O'Leary on the bike and presenter Dave MacArdle on the run along with herself in the water, were the ones to watch.
“We are banking on Diarmuid to get us over the line. Diarmuid has a lot of experience with triathlons and cycling, Dave Mac is also a dark horse and likely to do very well on the day.”
Although 96fm is not to be ruled out, as Fiona assertively told the Examiner, her team has a high level of fitness and “can dance for three hours non-stop in a nightclub.” Not something to be dismissed lightly.
While RedFM is quietly confident and 96fm is assertive about their ability, the Irish Examiner has a team of ninja athletes ready to strike… or so their captain believes.
“Eoin is a monster on the bike so look forward to seeing how he performs on the day. Our runner Stephen Rogers is fast and I mean fast,” Peter said.
The Echo’s team, led by Captain and Health and Education correspondent Darragh Bermingham (cycle), consists of News Editor Ronan Bagnall (run) and Finance and Operations manager Mikie Sheehan (swim) say there is definitely an element of winging it involved on their team, but they hope to do well.
“I think preparations are going well other than that at the moment. Mikey is up at the crack of dawn most days and Ronan likes getting a few runs in during the week so we should be fine on the day.”
Darragh said that his team are looking forward to the event.
“The buzz around Kinsale on the day of the race will be great and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the race and seeing how we get on on the day. It’ll be great to get over the finish line and chat to all the other competitors as well.”
While many on the teams are new to triathlons, there are a few seasoned triathletes among the ranks with Diarmuid from RedFM and Peter from the Irish Examiner both having completed this race in previous years.
Peter reminisced of the last time he raced in KOTH.
Of course with high stakes, pride on the line and a pretty steep forfeit for the losing team, it’s only natural there are a few worries floating around the teams.
For 96FM, getting a puncture is an issue Pearse would rather not have to deal with and facing the hill on the run is something Fiona Corcoran is anxious about, but as Captain, Fiona is staying positive and getting the training in.
“We’ve been training a little bit but we’re hoping to step it up a gear over the next few weeks. Pearse is very into fitness anyway. He tells me cycling isn’t his sport but he’s looking forward to the challenge. Jude and I both have small kids and work full-time so we have let our fitness go a bit over the last few years so this is giving us a reason to get back into it again.”
For The Echo, calm waters will be in the prayers. “I think Mikey’s hoping for calm waters,” Darragh said, “but should be okay in any case and Ronan will make easy work of the hills on the run.”
RedFM’s captain, Fiona O’Donovan played down any fears, other than the weather.
“We're all worried about the heat, especially if we get a summer like 2018!”
Fiona O’Donovan also kept the team’s training habits to herself and played down any rivalry.
“We're all preparing as best we can, but it's also a bit of fun so no one wants to take it too seriously. It's all about participating.”
96FM captain Fiona Corcoran also said the event was a way of getting involved in the community and doing something fun with the other local media organisations.
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Darragh from The Echo said the event was great to keep him training on lazy days.
“It’s easy at the weekends or in the evenings to sit on the couch and do nothing but when you have a team depending on you, you want to get out there, get fit and do your best on the day. It’s also great for engaging with the other local media outlets in a bit of a friendly rivalry.”
Despite the nonchalant attitude, The Echo, Irish Examiner, RedFM and 96FM will be going for Gold on the day, in an effort to earn the title as fittest media organisation in Cork and to avoid the agreed forfeit which, after much negotiation, was decided that the losing team would donate to Cork's Penny Dinners.
While the rivalry is high and a game plan is essential, some captains have resorted to bullying to get the results they are looking for.
“Stephen is a little concerned as he has not done an event like this before,” Peter said, “So naturally as true teammates to alleviate his fears we have told him not to mess up or else! It‘s all down to Stephen Rogers. No pressure Stephen... Na I'm kidding you mess up and we know where you live…”
The King of the Hill Sprint Triathlon is organised by the Cork Triathlon Club and takes place at Dock Beach in Kinsale on July 27.
For more information log onto Facebook and search ‘CTC King of the Hill’.