Wednesday, August 3, 2011

London Triathlon '11 - Race Report

What an amazing event this was. Let's forget about my results and experience for a moment so I can tell you a bit about the event itself in order for you to visualize it for a second.

There were about 14,000 participants, that means 14,000 participants AND bikes at Transition.

If each of these participants brought along an average of 2 supporters that means 28,000 supporters throughout the course.  The Management and organization of this event was 5 stars and I am sure each and every one of my fellow participants will agree with me.  The Expo area was superb with great stores having large stands, tempting each and every one of us to pull out those credit cards and... damn it, I pulled mine out!

Congratulations to Challenge World and Sir Richard Branson's team.


I arrived at the Excel Exhibition Center with plenty of time to spare since the bike had already been racked already racked the day before.  I then spent a bit of time wondering around the Expo and watching some of the previous waves.  I couldn't believe it when I heard the briefing on one of the waves and the race coordinator said that particular wave had 365 participants! That was just mad! I was starting to get a bit scared of the swim just hearing what that guy was saying, so I thought I better get on with my warming up!

Massive wave of leaving before ours.

I headed out to transition and IT WAS PACKED! There was barely any space for me to squeeze in my towel and shoes, but transition always leads to good conversation with your fellow "neighbours" so thats what we all did...we chatted about the course, wind conditions and temperature.  Soon enough a marshal came around ushering us to the Swim Assembly where, this time, the race coordinator told our wave we were 404 participants. I have been in triathlons that dont have that many people in the whole event, let alone in one wave!!  Anyway, After a couple of GI Joe and Spartacus type yells led by the coordinator, we get our endorphins and adrenaline levels up and head out to the water in two internal waves as we were too many to leave at the same time.  We get in the water and the quicker swimmers go ahead on the first of our waves, and I stand behind to go on the second one. My plan was to not run out of breath too quick so I was planning on stopping for a 20 second breather every 40 strokes or so. 

Over 14,000 bikes in Transition

The horn goes off and off we go.  I was expecting lots of slaps, kicks and elbows as with every mass start, but I was pleasantly surprised with the low number of hits I got (and gave).  I was feeling really good during the swim and just kept on going without feeling the need to stop for a breather.  I really  surprised myself as I only stopped three times and they were all because I was either climbing over someone (not literally, come on!) or because I could feel someone on my legs.  I seriously could not believe it as I stopped counting strokes when I got to over 350 without stopping for some air.  This may not be anything special for most triathletes, but swimming is my weakest discipline and I was really overwhelmed with my performance. It must have been the adrenaline.

Swim exit, struggling to get the wetsuit off
On a negative side, well, VERY negative side, my wedding band got knocked off my finger during the mayhem of the very first strokes.  Not only that, but my lucky bracelet which my oldest daughter Sofia made for me at school also got knocked off my wrist :( I have a lot of sucking up to do for this...and my wife will also need an explanation :(

Official Swim Time: 37m:00s

I get up the ramp as quick as I could, got some help form one of the marshals on getting my wetsuit off and got up to transition as quick as I could, but not quick enough :(

Official T1 Time: 05m:36s

I hit the bike and I knew I was gonna see many TT bikes go by me, but I was not going to let that ruin my day.  It was supposed to be a nice and flat course, or pretty flat at least I had been told.  And so it was, but there were a couple of rolling hills into and out of some London tunnels and the uphills made me slow down. I won't complain too much about this as I am a victim of my own mistakes since I train mostly on flat courses around my house in Surrey, but not anymore! I vow to no longer train on pancake courses, and, instead, I will hit the lovely Surrey hills to get these old legs into better shape. This was the first race I did using the aero bars, even though I have had them for over a year. Yeah, I know...don't ask! I suppose it took me this long to feel confident enough to fully hit the road with them.

My legs felt OK for most of the bike course but I really did feel them on the few hills out of the tunnels.  Also, to make things worst, I ran out of my drinks (2 bottles) at during my bike leg so I suppose I wanted to save myself before my body started dehydrating over the ride.

Official Bike Tike: 1h:06m:48s

T2 was quick and smooth. Got the gels down my throat, shoes off, shoes on and hit the road.

Official T2 Time: 02m:23s

As I hit the road for the 10km I felt good and my legs were reacting appropriately.  I must say, ever since I got the compression guards I have not had cramps once, so Im not sure if thats just my form improving or these 2XU calf guards are really this good.  Check them out if you can.

The run course was absolutely crowded which, if anything, was the only negative point about the event. It was really hard to pass people and, at time, even dangerous to do so. Nonetheless, as I mentioned in the initial paragraph, the atmosphere was second to none! Thousands of people made the course really easy to go through and marshals and volunteers were great with all their support throughout.

The first two laps were easy enough but my legs started complaining towards the middle of the third lap. With all the people on the course it was even hard concentrating on any particular runner as a target to chase and catch.  I was passed by an age grouper with the GB kit on and I wanted to just stay with him for as long as possible, but that only lasted half a lap.  The fourth and final lap was the toughest one but I was able to keep it together to the end.

This picture realy captures the sheer number of participants on the course
As soon as I had the Excel center in sight I tried to speed up and pass a few more people before I entered the hall.  As soon as I entered I got a bit of a rush and sprinted all the way to the finish line. I was dead tired but the rush held me up, and the ice the marshals handed out at the finish line was great, believe me.

My time was 2h:39m:31s


OVERALL:   570/1397    MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - TOP 40%
SWIM :         1020/1397  MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - BOTTOM  27%
BIKE :           626/1397    MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - TOP 44%
RUN:            334/1397   MALE AGE GROUP OPEN   - TOP 24%

I will be back for more in 2012 :)


  1. Nice job! Sounds like a great event and you came in with solid times.

    One piece of advice for the future, leave the wedding band off on open water swims (training or race). Frankly I recommend leaving it off during any training as our fingers change size and sweat or water just lubes it. I've seen people shoot a ring off their hand while running as well.

  2. My GOD that would be an intimidating swim start! 404 people!! At the same time though, that's an experience to talk about for years to come. I'm glad to hear that they ran a race with that many people as smooth as they did. I know a bunch of 100 people tri's that need some serious help. 14k participants throws in a whole different set of rules. haha

    Awesome job!!

  3. Great job man!!!
    It was amazing reading your experience!!
    See you in Barcelona Garmin?
    Im getting ready for the Sail-fish Berga on the 25th sept.
    Congratulations great times!!

  4. Great job Miguel. Impressive to see you increase your placing with each discipline. That is the benefit of not coming out of the water with all of the "fish". That is exactly the tact that I typically take as well.

    Keep up the good work!

    Jamie -