Monday, August 01, 2011

Virgin Active London Triathlon ...

The Tri is usually an epic event anyway, but when it's not only in London, but the worlds biggest, ever, triathlon event, you just have to be there. The Virgin Active London Triathlon, with over 14,000 competitors, was held in London Docklands over the weekend, and was truly epic.

Around 55,000 spectators are estimated to have watched the action on Saturday and Sunday, which included Sprint-Tri, Super Sprint, Olympic and Olympic Plus distances, with 80km bike rides taking in Billingsgate and scenic central London all the way to Westminster.

Sir Richard Branson (well, of course) and dozens of other celebrities took part in the event, which also saw the culmination of the British Triathlon Super Series.
“I think I broke the rules, not sure I should have swum backstroke but it was good to have got around.” - Richard Branson
The weekend saw participants from 36 countries, ranging in age from 14 to 75, swimming, cycling and running through the heart of London.

Sadly I did not compete, even in the short 'Sprint' Triathlon, but as a very keen cyclist, I was pleased to be part of a Marshalling and Stewarding Team mainly concentrating in the bike Checking, Racking and Transition Zones. Exhausting, but good fun.

Calm before the storm
The weekend started off on the Friday with layout and set up, creating the bike racks, marking out and building the run carpeting for the swimmers as they exit the water on the way to the swim-bike transition.

Saturday 8 a.m. and the event was busy right from the gun. All day through to close, the Transition area was packed with competitors either racking in preparation for later Saturday or Sunday, others starting off on their events, and others exhaustingly collecting their items from transition after completing their Tri.

Mens Elite get a red carpet
Lots of celebs around, including Nell McAndrew, who is seriously gorgeous, smiley and giggly in real life as you'd expect. Saturday was manic. Sunday was more of the same, just even more so.

The Mens Elite Race was won by Britain's Ritchie Nicholls in an excellent 1:45:37 and a Brit also won the Womens Elite race, Jodie Stimpson setting a time of 1:56:48. You can read a full report of the 'Elite' races here, but just like the London Marathon, it's just as much about the amateurs, the charity competitors, the madcaps and the first-timers. All those results are here.

Melanie Chisolm
Nell McAndrew
Particularly amazing was Melanie Chisholm who proved she was still 'Sporty Spice' by coming in as first female in her race.

I didn't actually get a lot of time to watch the competing - too busy - but I'll catch up with it when Channel 4 show their program at 7am on Sunday August 14th (stupid time to schedule it)

Full racks on Saturday
The only down side of the weekend? I love my cycle (even more now it's at least partially rebuild after my crash) but checking in all these pro bikes just made me green with envy all day long. Beautiful machines, almost all of them, (except the Barclays Hire Bike that someone chose to ride!) and a wide variety of bikes all day long, from really well-build amateur machines to pro rides costing tens of thousand pounds. Pure bike porn. It made me realise than my Claud Butler is showing it's years.

Still, a smile from Nell McAndrew made up even for that.