A Tale of Two Cities (or 2 relative novices take on 2 triathlons in 2 weeks)

Round One – London Triathlon – 6th August 2016

Jen & I entered the 2015 London Tri as my first real event in 2015 and we decided to go back in 2016 to see if we could beat our times.

IMG_5863Based at Excel Exhibition Centre east of Docklands close to City Airport, we entered the Super Sprint (400m swim in the deep Royal Dock, 10km Bike on closed roads and then a 2.5km run on closed paths) it’s a big event with something like 2500 people competing in different categories. We found its best to get there the night before, we stayed in the local Travelodge which is full of people taking part and a gave us a chance to look at the swim and run course and relax.

Earlyish start on the Saturday to get parked up, register and then rack your bike etc, fairly big exhibition runs alongside the Tri so lots to look and buy.IMG_5861 Staff are really friendly. The race is sorted into distance/ gender waves, briefing takes place before each wave and then you go down stairs to the swim start, the pontoon is small so you have no choice but to get in and tread water until the start, swim can be choppy and last year I was near the front and got swum over by lots of swimmers so not great.
The exit to the swim is on a ramp and then you have to remove your wetsuit and put it in bags provided before running up the stairs and into transition (the transitions at London are long), out onto the bike course which is closed public dual carriageway, there is a killer of a hill close to the start and a roundabout before it so very little chance to get speed up, SS course is one lap and it can be lonely and windy (course is very exposed), just before transition you have to climb up a loading ramp which again is a killer, some people walk up it.IMG_5865

Back through the long transition and onto the run alongside the docks, this is really the first time you see spectators (and those are usually people supporting other competitors) course seems long but once again ends up going up a loading ramp near the end (the last thing you need) before entering the halls to the finish. It killed me this year but I did beat my previous time by 5 minutes but don’t get excited, I’m really slow anyway as I do breaststroke on the swim!

Would I do it again, possibly not, its got a great atmosphere in the halls and the exhibition is good, but I think after doing it twice, that’s enough.

Round 2 – Liverpool Triathlon – 14th August 2016

IMG_5902So a week later and we are heading to the ACC at Liverpool, another Exhibition centre, this time Jenni has entered the Olympic Distance (1500m/40km/10km) an entered the Sprint (750m/20km/5km) so a bit of a step up for both of us. The ACC is next to the refurbished Albert Dock so right in the heart of the tourist area so completely different to London.

Liverpool is different in that the event is on the Sunday only but you register, rack your bike etc on the Saturday from 2 pm so even though it’s a dayIMG_5904 event you need to be there the day before and again it gives you a chance to work out the swim course and transitions. The venue is locked overnight so your kit is secure.

Day of the race and up early as Jennis wave start time was 9.40 whereas mine wasn’t until 12.05. Swim is in the salt water Queens Dock it’s quite a walk to the start from transition. The pontoon to walk on was a bit wobbly and Jens start was off the side of the pontoon whereas my start for the shorter swim involved a swim out into the dock for a deep water start. The waves were smaller being broken down into distance/ gender and age.

IMG_5905Like London you need to get out of your wetsuit before entering the halls so are given a bag as soon as you get out of the water, it’s then a run through the Arena carrying a bag to the transition area, bike course is then again on closed roads and is 10km long so Jen had 4 laps where I had 2 to do, the amount of support on the first part of the bike course is great, tourists and supporters cheering you on, small incline IMG_5909after the Liver building and then a quite incline and sharp u turn at the end of each lap, back to the ACC for the transition and out onto the run course that heads out through the Albert Dock and again lots of support, course is then on pavement mixing it with pedestrians and some closed roads, I have to say 5km killed me and my time at just under 2 hours was slow by club standards but I was pleased with the outcome. Jenni was proud to complete her distance and managed to run (although slow and not very pretty) the 10k, finishing in 3 hours, 49 minutes.

Out of the 2 We certainly preferred Liverpool because of the atmosphere and spectator support and will hopefully be heading back next year.

Graham and Jenni Lyall