Yesterday I took part in the London Triathlon for my 3rd time. The London Triathlon was the first triathlon I ever participated in back in 2011 where I took part in the Sprint distance on the Saturday. One of the best things about the London Tri is that there are loads of beginners so if it’s your first one you’re in good company.
Super Sprint (400m, 10km, 2.5km), Sprint (750m, 20km, 5km), Olympic (1500m, 40km, 10km) and Olympic Plus (1500m, 80km,10km). The swim takes part in the Royal Victoria Docks outside of the Excel Centre. The cycle takes place on closed roads. The Sunday Olympic route heads out towards Westminster so there are less laps. The run is alongside the docks and is the same route for all distances as it’s a 2.5km loop. There is also a team relay option.
With a big event like this I would always vote for trying to get early bird prices. I paid £103 for the Sunday Westminster Olympic distance, so not cheap really! However what’s included for your money: swim hat, real time race tracking (through your timing chip), closed road bike, SIS and water aid stations on the run, music on the run, medal and finishers tee. There are also motivating emails and training plans leading up to the event and the option to rent wetsuits for event day too. There is a photographer out on the day but pictures are paid for after.
Participants receive a bike and helmet sticker, a wristband and a race number with safety pins in the post before the event. Upon registration you receive your swim hat and timing chip. There’s an option to rack your bike up the night before especially if you have an early wave time. Otherwise the expectation is to arrive at least 90 minutes before your wave time. I had no issues getting through registration, there were no queues and racking up was simple and easily signed by your wave times.
I was in wave 51 at 9:10am with 146 other people. We had a race briefing before the swim with the do’s and don’ts and then got into the water about 5 mins before the start. The water is EU bathing standard but not the nicest water. The swim was one lap and was busy to begin with due to the amount of people but not too bad. The swim itself I would say is pretty clearly marked with large buoys. My swim time wasn’t a PB and the water was surprisingly choppy it almost felt like a sea swim. The end of the swim is with a submerged jetty so really easy to get out.
As you come out the water you have to get your wetsuit into a plastic bag which is handed out to you before you enter the excel. There are a flight of stairs up to the transition area which you need to go up slowly as it’s slippery. Once into transition it’s a very short walk, jog or run to your bike.
I averaged just over a 30km an hour pace on the bike which for me ended with an Olympic distance triathlon PB. The bike was two laps on closed roads; a long lap which headed to Westminster and then a shorter lap. The course in general I have to say is very grey and uninspiring however it is flat and pretty fast but we had a lot of head wind which of course made the route a little harder. Other than that there wasn’t much else to say about the bike leg.
Well transition 2 was more interesting than number 1. Firstly I couldn’t remember how far up my racking station was and then once I had my trainers on I went off towards the Bike Out rather than the Run Out. So despite being closer to the run out it wasn’t until I was at the other end did someone say to me “love are you going for a run?” yes was my response “yes it’s the other way. Great!
Then comes the run. My least favourite part of a triathlon and the last part too. The Olympic run course is for laps of 2.5km with a water station on the way out and a SIS station with gels and fluid on the way back. Istarted the tri knowing that the run was going to be bad as I have been injured which I haven’t fully recovered from and have ran about 7 times this year and none more than 5km. So the first 3 laps were steady and pretty consistent but the last lap finished me. Therefore I did exactly an hour 10km and to be honest I gave it my best and crossing that finish line made me so happy!
Would I sign up for next year? I think based on the fact I have done this course a few times now and the Saturday and Sunday routes I think I would prefer to cycle around prettier routes however if you are a beginner there are lots of other people in the same boat and it is in the capital. However do not expect the same kind of crowds as the marathon you will find that apart from the the swim, bike and run near the excel the crowds are few and far between.