The Virgin Active London Triathlon was my second tri of the season. Having cut my teeth at Eton Dorney on the wonderful course I thought the sprint distance Virgin tri with it’s longer swim would be pretty easy. Boy was I wrong.

Of course I should have anticipated it but the main issue, as with any event like this, is just that it was so packed. There were 400+ people in my wave which made it pretty difficult to get through the water then onto a busy cycle course, not to mention the long runs to transition.

Oh well, I was pleased overall with the time but the location – Excel – in London’s Docklands kind of put me off this one.

Swim 750m

Almost twice as long as my previous tri but it wasn’t the distance that worried me, more the fact that we were swimming in the Thames where I was sure I’d catch the Black Death or something. I’d been advised to drink flat coke before racing to kill bacteria that I swallowed. I reckon this is an old wives’ tale. I drank the flat coke anyway and I didn’t catch anything though, so maybe not.

Not catching the Plague from Docklands

Not catching the Plague from Docklands

The course was packed. Every few minutes I was trapped by a group treading water and trying to make their way round the buoys, so it was slow going. Then when we got out we had to de-suit on the dockside before running into Excel to transition. Up a flight of stairs no less.

Swim: 21:01
T1: 5:25 (Yeah there was like a 100m run to the transition station).

Cycle 20k

Woah, did not expect this. The track was mostly a single lane of traffic closed off around Excel. It was pretty technical with several roundabouts, narrow lanes and a few hills. There were quite a few crashes and most of the time was spent shouting “on your right mate!”

Lots of brake work and frustrated overtaking. I’m not sure how they managed to police the no drafting rule either. The hills here and there and the number of bodies on the course made it slow going despite me thinking I was flying round by hitting 29MPH on one stretch.

Again, running round the long track to get to transition whilst wearing cleats was tricky and a bit annoying that it was essentially single file and referees had to stop people to tell them to fasten their helmet up before re-racking their bike.

Bike: 39:54
T2: 3:48

Run 5k

I guzzled a gel during T2 for this bit as I wanted to see if I could power through and make some time up. The bar mounted bottle on the bike was useful for keeping me hydrated so I didn’t worry about water for this bit.

The run was ok. A bendy course with a bit of hill at the end and an indoor section which surprises you when you think you’ve finished.

Run: 26:28

Total time: 1:36:35

I was pretty happy with that given the course. I’d anticipated to get closer to 1:32 but taking into account the transitions I’d say I’m on track. Looking forward to the Olympic distance one in September, especially as it’s back to Eton Dorney.

Definitely recommend the sprint distance to dip your toes in, so to speak, but maybe not this Virgin London event. Saying that it’s more of an ‘experience’ and it definitely feels like a big deal.

Written by james