an Olympic (host city) Triathlon

On Sunday I completed my first Olympic (host city) Triathlon. Why the parenthesis? Well an olympic triathlon is a 1500m swim, a 40k cycle, and a 10k run. An Olympic (host city) Triathlon is one that I just made up, takes place in a city that has hosted the Olympics, and roughly includes the same distances and events.


On Sunday, due to some calendar mismanagement I had entered myself into a 1.5k Open Water swim and a 10k run. Wanting to do both I worked closely with the space-time continuum to work out a way to compete in both. I’d like to thank my unofficial sponsors TfL journey planner & pret’s £1 filter coffee.

Most Olympic triathlons are held in one location. This makes the logistics of arriving, storing your kit, and toilet facilities easy. This wasn’t the case in my Olympic (host city) Triathlon so I had to trust my own logistics and go for it.

The morning started at 6:45am with a 1 mile cycle to the West Reservoir at Stoke Newington. Quickly becoming one of my favourite places in London, I arrived all smiles to check in to Capital Tri’s Splash Race #2. I have signed up for the improver series of races doing the 750m splash #1, the 1.5k splash #2 and in September the 3k splash #3. Stepping up to the 1.5k distance was a 10/10 on indimidation scale but I was excited to try and knew it would be easier than last week’s sea swim!


I said hi to Cørinne, who was also doing her first 1.5k swim and found myself out on the docks in wave #2 jumping into the balmy 20* water. As we started swimming I took my place in the back of the pack and felt pretty good breathing & sighting my way around. Not feeling totally comfortable I took a few treading water breaks, but was getting around.  The second half of the reservoir is pretty weedy at this time of the year. Every stroke yielded a new arm decoration or sometimes the pieces of weeds stuck to my goggles making sighting a whole new adventure.

On the second lap something magical happened. I forgot I was swimming and when I remembered I was just cruising along in a perfect rythym loving life. Not sure why it took me 1000m to get there, and I need to figure out how to start a race in that mindset, but it made the last 500m so much fun I even enjoyed climbing out of the reservoir looking like a swamp monster.


The weeds didn’t matter and it was nice to see my watch say 38:40 minutes. I had hoped for anything in the 40s (based on my 750m time – and to make it to the 10k race on time) and was pleasantly surprised to see such a quick (for me) time.


Swim: 38:40 minutes
T1: 27 minutes (NO SHOWER)


No time to lounge around on the cafe terrace though as I had a transition to complete. Straight to the change rooms to get out of my wetsuit and into my running kit. As I was rushing out one of the race sponsors asked if I had tried their new shower gel. I had to admit I didn’t shower (don’t look at me like that!) and rushed off bashfully. The goodybag from the Splash included a banana, water, a Mars bar & haribo. Perfect transition fuel. A quick walk to Manor House to catch the tube to Piccadilly Circus for the British 10k London Run. 18 minutes is a new Piccadilly Line PB.

transition time

Cycle Tube: 18 minutes
T2: 37 minutes 

Having run the British 10k before I knew not to rush for the 9:35am start as with tens of thousands of runners it takes a while for everyone to get over the line.  I arrived in the start area around 9:40 and ended up in the last wave of starters. As we inched our way towards the start past Green Park I ignored the last toilet stop and continued to sip my coffee. As our wave was called up to start I realised I should have taken advantage of the previous transition’s toilets. As I jogged over the line I saw the start pen toilets being packed up – the fear of being lifted into a truck while in a portaloo flashed through my head, but the the thought of 10k needing a wee was stronger. So I ran off course for a bit to relieve myself.


This detour caused me to end up behind the sweeper truck of the race before I had even reached the first 500m. No problem, time to work on my interval training. I passed the sweepers with a wave, dodged in out and all about the walkers and found myself in the midst of some runners around the 1km mark. The British 10k is an interesting race, and I went into it with a very open mind. I ran it in 2011 as one of my first races in London ever, and loved it (even wearing a giant pink cotton tshirt!) Other than the super speedy, this race doesn’t have you seeded so the whole course is filled with people walking, running, slowing down, speeding up, and *sometimes* even smiling. It can be annoying to dodge slower runners, and have speedy runners push past you, but such is this race so you just have to accept it.


The route was new this year and 100% almost all out and back sections. I really liked that as you could always see new people and with the diversity of the racers there was always something interesting to look at (horse & chicken kissing I was mostly looking at you).


My watch tracked me as running 6.5 miles (with my pee detour & general course weaving) and I enjoyed every inch of it.  At the finish there were loads of people absolutely chuffed to finish and it reminded me that this race was a new challenge for a lot of people, and to finish was such a big accomplishment. My only complaint comes here, at the finish you had to walk another 1km to the baggage tents (even if you didn’t check a bag) to collect your medal. Which was handed to you still wrapped up by someone with the enthusiasm more commonly found from the people giving out free sample bags of popcorn at Waterloo station. If it was your first 10k you want that medal around your neck as you finish.  Receiving my London Marathon medal around my neck from a fabulous volunteer is still one of my best memories of running ever. Vitality now organise a lot of running events around the UK, they have no excuse not to put on a good race.


Run: 59:19 minutes

After getting my medal I continued on to catch the tube back to the reservoir to retrieve my bike and finish the Olympic (host city) Triathlon back at home all before 1pm.

Thank you to New Balance UK who asked me to run the British 10k London Run with their team and gifted me the entry & a pair of Fresh Foam shoes for the race.


4 thoughts on “an Olympic (host city) Triathlon

  1. Nikki

    Wow! That’s pretty blooming amazing Laura. Love your swamp monster photo! It’s funny how a different set of volunteers can change things – at Hackney (also Vitality) they were putting medals on EVERYONE in such a caring and enthusiastic way. What’s the next adventure?

  2. Coco

    Ha ha! So funny! I did the same but on Saturday as the panic of the first olympic tri has started! It was great to see you but next time we are having that coffee! 🙂 (And, argh, I haven’t kept my promise to beat you ;-P)


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