(This post is really only for people interested in Triathlons!)
Last weekend was the London Tri organised by Virgin Active. It advertises itself as the world’s largest so I guess that must be true. Don’t let that put you off though if you are thinking of entering an open water triathlon. You can do Sprint distance and Super Sprint (the shortest official distance) on the Saturday and on Sunday there are Olympic distance races. The Excel centre houses both the indoor transition area and the Expo – it is a HUGE indoor space. So big that you can rack your bike as soon as you arrive even if, like me, your race is not till near the end of the day.
The whole thing was very well organised and everyone was friendly. As usual the whole range of competitors was represented from the super-fast with their amazing, super-expensive bikes, the ordinary fun competitors like me and the brave ‘all-shapes-and-sizes-doing-this-for-charity’ entrants. All ages, all sizes, all friendly.
We swam in Victoria dock (500 women in my wave). It really didn’t taste that bad (EU standard allegedly but you were advised not to swallow it!) and it probably was cold but after 20 minutes hanging around in a wet suit I promise you’ll be SO hot, you’ll be desperate to cool down. The bike ride was a joy: well signed, wide empty roads and mostly flat. The run route had spectators shouting encouragement pretty much the whole way so that helped too.
As for getting into London, it was much easier than I expected, you only just fall off the end of the M11 and you are virtually there. I recommend staying overnight and making a day of it, the Travelodge by City Airport was full of competitors. There is LOADS of easy parking at Excel, at £15 for the whole day it wasn’t cheap but it was much easier than any other way in as Docklands Light Railway did not allow bikes on their trains.
And after the race? There are loads of food outlets in the Excel centre so you can take your pick from burgers, pizza, noodles etc. Thank you Virgin Active for a well run event, for the medal, the towel and the e-goodie bag of money off vouchers.
What’s the point of it all? For many raising money for charity is a great reason. I didn’t do this, this time as I’d had such a dreadful summer with injury I wasn’t sure till the last minute whether I’d actually take part. But simply doing it for the challenge and for the fun, is good enough reason. Finishing was a great feeling. David, Emma and Grandma were there to cheer me in (Matt had seen me off but had to dash for a train). Having explained it all again after I’d finished to my Mum, (for whom ‘talking to strangers’ is one of life’s greatest joys) she looked at me puzzled and said wistfully ‘I don’t suppose you managed to speak to many people on the way round?’ !! No, Mum, that wasn’t quite the point!
I also made it in to post race video which you can find on Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/user/LondonTri?feature=guide this one is 11 mins long but just as interesting (for triathletes) is the 2 mins time lapse montage of transition which shows you just how huge the venue is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mRkOhrsTSk&feature=autoplay&list=UUOpKw-H_Irqqf40M3sjnj-A&playnext=1