Monday, 16 September 2013

PruHealth World Triathlon Grand Final London

This weekend I was lucky enough to have the chance to take part in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in London's Hyde Park. I won a place through a competition in Runner's World magazine and although I already had an events on both the Saturday and the Sunday that same weekend I worked out that logistical I could manage it, if not physically, so why on earth not... yeah...

This is perhaps the best I've ever looked in a wetsuit. That's the only reason this picture is being included.
This was probably the biggest event I've ever been involved in, a multi day event encompassing elites and beginners. In light of that it was very well organised. The site felt HUGE! There were marshalls everywhere ensuring people could navigate the park while not impeding the athletes. Everyone I spoke to was able to direct me accurately but a few signs would have been nice. I didn't look around the expo but I wish I had. Aside from the indoor section there were lots of sponsor and brand tents outside as well as food vendors galore. Plenty of loos and a sizeable grandstand that enabled you to watch the swim start and the run finish at the same time. Collecting my race pack was easy and I had time enough to sit down, have a sandwich and watch all the competitors millig around, looking far more professional than me.
Transition was vast and not very well signposted. I ended up heading the wrong way out of T1 at first but I got the hang of it in the end. Because transition was so big my T times were longer than expected. Because there were so many announcements going on you had to keep your wits about you to ensure you got to the swim start on time. This was a deep water start, in a row, from a pontoon on the Serpentine. The water was 16 degrees so it was compulsory wetsuits. Not too much pushing and shoving at the off and I managed to keep up with the slower front crawl swimmers with breaststroke. One lap, up the ramp and a hike into T1 avoiding cyclists.
The bike route was 3 flattish laps within Hyde Park featuring a couple of tight turns. I ambled round at something approximating a snails pace, but I made it. I hated most of it with the exception of the lovely spectators and the fellow cyclist who encouraged me by name (it was printed on my bib). I wobbled into T2, barely able to do anything except smile and staggered out onto the run course, a 2 lap route around the serpentine. Somehow my legs were moving faster than I thought they were, I overtook some people and was roughly 10 seconds away from beating my 5k PB... quite incredible after the swim and bike.
A triumphant finish.
The final straight of the run takes you right past the front of the grandstand and with all the spectators cheering (if not you then someone close to you) you feel like a true star. I even managed to pick up the pace for the last 100m. Into the finishers funnel, medal hung around neck, timing chip removed and official photos take, I had an emotional moment by the water table before heading out into the throng of people to collect myself and my belongings before a very long journey home.
So pleased!
It really was an amazing event to be part of. I'm so glad I took the opportunity, even if I didn't see a Brownlee brother.If you get the chance, I'd recommend it. I can't compare it to the London Triathlon but I'd like to be able to so maybe I'll give that a go next year. After all, I've got a time to beat now, because I KNOW I can do so much better.

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