x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Tri Yas … it will be no family picnic

The O'Sheas of Abu Dhabi will come together to compete in Friday's race at Yas Marina Circuit.

The O'Shea family has been training together for some time now.
The O'Shea family has been training together for some time now.

ABU DHABI // Breakfast for the O'Shea family will be straightforward this morning but the conversation is sure to be focused on one thing: Tri Yas.

In its second year, the triathlon around the grounds of the Formula One Circuit on Yas Island will have more than 900 competitors.

The Abu Dhabi family of four will be giving each other a few words of support before setting off on their races.

Paul, 45, has competed in three triathlons and his wife Angela, 46, will be on her second.

Holly, 15, will be competing in the duathlon for the 15 to 17 age group, an 11-kilometre bike ride followed by a 3km run.

Her brother, Sam, 14, will be aiming for the podium in the duathlon for those aged 11 to 14, which is 5.5km on the bike and a 1.5km run.

The O'Sheas are no strangers to Yas Marina Circuit, having been there every Tuesday since track officials opened the 5.5km track to cyclists and runners.

"The circuit is brilliant. We've had opportunities to do other triathlons elsewhere," Mr O'Shea said.

Mrs O'Shea said she ran in Tri Yas last year only because it was familiar territory.

"We've been doing Train Yas on Tuesday nights since it started [in June 2010] and then the triathlon came and Paul was saying it'd be amazing to do the first one," she said.

"I'd not swum for 30 years, not been on a bike for 40 years and the next thing I was signing up for it. You just get addicted to it."

Mrs O'Shea said they thought the race last year would "be a lot more amateur than the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon", but discovered otherwise.

"We saw the bikes and realised it wasn't at all amateur. I had my little mountain bike and on the day I cried," she said.

She was not keeping time but was proud to finish the race, coming in "remarkably last".

"I did all the training and I knew I could do it but I am not built for speed," Mrs O'Shea said.

But this year she is determined to improve on her time.

Mr O'Shea said people told him they would like to complete a triathlon but the swim puts them off.

"It's tough work but taking it on the last year, if you're determined enough and train hard enough for it you can do it," he said.

This year the couple are taking on the sprint distance: a 750-metre swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run to the finish.

There is also an Olympic division with a 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run.

Last year they entered the race to raise funds for friends whose son died in an accident.

"We get a lot of support from family through Facebook with messages of 'well done'," Mr O'Shea said.

"But they still think we're mad," Mrs O'Shea added.

Mr O'Shea said the rivalry between the children was heated, but in a healthy way.

Sam said he was confident and was looking to win his age group. Holly said she had been working hard in the gym, and was running at 5am with her mother and brother.

"He's nowhere to be seen in the gym," Holly said of Sam.

She said she had several friends who liked running but did not know where to go. "I do know quite a few that come [to Yas]."

The family has been preparing for the race by working out and eating heathily. For the past two days, pasta has been a staple as they load up with carbohydrates.

"We want to keep fit and it's a good thing for all of us to get involved in," Sam said. "We've signed up for it and we all have a goal. The only reason we don't finish it is if one us gets injured.

"It's good as a family to get out and do it, unlike sitting in front of the television all night, which we do, but we also go out and do this too."

The events start at 4pm with the first wave of the Olympic triathlon.

eharnan@thenational.ae