“The world’s largest triathlon with racers taking the plunge in the London Docklands then cycling a tourist-friendly route through London with plenty of sights to take in. Famously well-organised and a big highlight of the tri-calendar for all abilities.”Where: LondonWhen: July
Distances: Super Sprint, Sprint, Olympic and Relay
Size: 13000 runners
Difficulty: Challenging | Tough | Rock Hard (a few hills on bike and flat on run)
Organisation: Basic | Good | Perfect
Official race website here.
- Rack your bike up the day before and use public transport to get in – the road closures are great for racers but make getting to the start very stressful
- Memorize where you are parked in the transition area as this race hall is huge and it’s easy to get lost on swim exit!
- Save a bit of energy for after the swim as you have to take your wetsuit off and bag it before the climb on the other side
- Take it easy on the loop turns – it’s fast and can get slippery
- Keep count on the run as the loop system can get confusing. One way to keep count is to stick 4 bits of tape on your wrist and discard as you go
- Watch your feet on the run as the ground is uneven in place
- Enjoy it and say thanks to all the amazing spectators!
Official Race Coverage Video
What’s the set up like?
Registration, transitions and finish line are all inside the impressive Excel Centre where there’s also a comprehensive and lively Exo (handy for drooling over the latest bikes or buying forgotten kit). The pre-race paperwork is clear and thorough and it’s all easy to understand on the day with plenty of stalls and helpers. The pre-race ‘gee-up’ is brilliant and once you’re out on the course it’s all brilliantly signed with regular nutrition points along the run.
The set up for the running leg of the race is brilliant for spectators and runners as it loops many times with plenty of places for supporters to cheer you on.
The only thing to bear in mind is that this race is huge and it can be easy to get lost in the race hall so memorize where you are racked.
What’s the course like?
The swim is in London Docklands so the water isn’t great. There’s talk of ‘Thames Tummy’ but it’s not something swimmers should worry about. A lot of triathletes have a couple of practise swims in lakes and rivers beforehand so they should be used to a few bugs. The bike is brilliant as it’s all car-free and takes in views of Millennium Dome and Tower Bridge (among other things) not to mention the high-rises of a fantastic city. You also get to wiz through a couple of under-pass tunnels which are steep , fast and very fun. Just make sure you save some juice for the climb the other side! The run is flat, fine and pretty uninspired with 2.5km loops around the water front of the Excel.
How’s the atmosphere?
As the ‘largest triathlon in the world’ – the size and noise of the event is fantastic.
There’s an amazing number of supporters lining the route. The swim was especially loud with hundreds of people cheering everyone back to dry land. Likewise on the bike halfway point which comes back past the Excel there’s a good gaggle of supporters to cheer triathletes on. The run is full of music and cheering which is brilliant. Some of the stewards are also hilariously up for it.
Amongst the triathletes it’s a nice excited atmosphere. Lots of first timers take on London and it gives it a great energy with people focused but not overly competitive or aggressive.
How difficult is the London Triathlon?
The swim waves are packed tight and it can get very rough in with fists and feet flying about. But the course widens out after about 100 meters so you can hang back if needs be. The water is pretty cold and not very clear so that can make it hard for people who aren’t used to outdoor swimming.
The swim to bike transition takes a bit more time than other tris as they make you take your wetsuit off and bag it outside the race hall to avoid wetting the hall. Normally you get a little run after the swim to recover but going straight into the wetsuit change is pretty tiring. Once you find your bike in the hall you can get some speed but also recover as it’s a short downhill stretch to the main road race.
The bike has a few medium difficulty hills over bridges and out of tunnels, so you’ll have to dig deep. Some of the turns are quite sharp as well especially on the ends of the loop so practise stopping and accelerating out of tight corners to nail them.
The run is pretty much flat and chock-full of support so it’s not too bad. The small loops make the K’s fly by as well… Just don’t loose count!
What is there to do after the race?
It’s London! So get a cab into town and celebrate!
Visit London website here.
London Excel information here.
Another good race advice site is from Tri247 and can be found here.
My Race Diary
Tri No.: 5
Time: 2: 41
This was my second Olympic distance tri and it was incredible. The size and noise of the event was fantastic and I beat my previous time.
That’s not to say it wasn’t tough! The swim was a punch-up and I got bopped pretty hard on the nose which took me a while to recover from. My transitions were OK but I read that flat coke was a good recovery so tried it out and threw up in my mouth! Nice.
The bike was an absolute pleasure and I got into a comedy tit-for-tat with a woman who couldn’t shake me off which past the miles nicely. The run was really tough as I got the calf cramps but the support really helped a lot and I finished with a nice little sprint. At least it felt like a sprint anyway.
- Celebs tackle London Triathlon (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Jodie Stimpson wins London Triathlon at ExCeL Arena (thesun.co.uk)
- IronKids triathlon promotes healthy lifestyle (thegazette.com)
- New division, bike course for this year’s triathlon (timesleader.com)