Today I took part in the Leonard Cheshire TriTogether Triathlon.
I want to avoid this post turning into a rant about the event, but I must say this triathlon was poorly organised, badly marshalled and generally quite chaotic. I realise that TriTogether is organised by a charity, and their main aim is to raise as much funding as possible, but I feel that some basic training for the marshalls was overlooked.
We arrived at Crystal Palace quite early, and joined the queue for the registration tent to collect my race numbers and stickers. Next up I took my gear to the transition area to get set up, only to be given misinformation from a rather rude marshall!
|All racked up|
The pool swim was 16 lengths of the 25m pool within the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The pool was quite grotty, and very shallow- almost like a learner pool for children.
We were assigned 6 people to a lane which was far too overcrowded. Each swimmer within the lane was given a coloured swimming cap- mine was black, and we were set off with 5 seconds between colour.
After swimming for a few minutes, I needed to overtake the person ahead of me, but it was impossible to pass, as the swimmer ahead of him was blocking the lane. It became frustrating as there was literally no room to get moving and my pace had to slow down to allow for the slower swimmers ahead of me.
I finally finished my 400m and climbed out of the pool, removing my cap and handing it back to a marshall. I then followed the markers round to the exit of the pool, but reached…. a dead end! I couldn’t find the exit from the pool, and asked a marshall for help, only to be misdirected back into the changing rooms! I back-tracked onto poolside and ending up walking another lap of the pool searching for the exit. The marshalls were too busy gossiping amongst themselves to offer any help and I became more and more frustrated at the poor directions. Finally I found the doorway, which it turned out had been blocked off by a table!
I realised I was being chased by a marshall who was demanding I returned my swimming cap immediately. I explained I had already given back my cap, but she refused to believe me… more time wasted!
The route between the swim exit and the transition zone was 87m long, so I jogged along the path to try and make up a little time.
The floor of the transition area was covered in sand, which immediately stuck to my wet feet. I tried to towel some of the sand off, but it was pretty uncomfortable putting my trainers onto sandy feet!
I put on my helmet and sunglasses, clipped on my race belt, grabbed my bike and headed out of transition…
I’d seen lots of people being misdirected as they were coming out of transition, so I made sure to head into the right funnel to start my bike laps. There was 498m to cycle before the bike loop officially started- again another point of frustration as all this was adding to my split times without being an official part of the race.
The cycle portion was 6 laps of Crystal Palace park, which was a really pleasant and undulating route. I’ve been working on my cycling a lot this summer, so I hoped for a strong bike section. Unfortunately the marshalling was slack throughout the cycle laps- members of the public were allowed to wander onto the race route, which was so dangerous with cyclists flying along at speed- I saw so many collisions waiting to happen.
I understand that the park is open to the public, and of course there will be people using the paths, but the marshalls were paying very little attention to safety of the participants and the public.
Unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy the cycle, as I was still fuming about the situation in the swimming pool. I was mentally drafting a strongly-worded email to the race organisers for the entire route!
I used strips of tape on the handlebars of my bike which I peeled off after each lap, to keep track of how many I had completed. The 6 laps flew past, I overtook around 30 people and was soon heading back into transition.
I racked my bike, took of my helmet, and was quickly off for my run…
There was 97m to run before the route officially started- and we were forced to walk 50m of this. I tried to jog it, but was told off my marshalls, so forced myself to walk.
The run was 5 laps of the park, which again was quite undulating and scenic. The sand in my shoes was really starting to chafe and I could feel blisters appearing on my feet.
One fantastic thing about this triathlon was the amount of disabled people taking part. It was amazing to see so many wheelchair or blind athletes giving it their all of the various parts of the course. I cheered on every disabled person I passed as they were a real inspiration.
After my 5 laps, I headed for the sprint finish in Crystal Palace Stadium- only we were told again to walk the 97m back into the stadium, before starting to run again. It was really disheartening to be forced to walk sections of the race when I wanted to go for it!
It was fun to run on the track in the stadium- not quite as grand as the Olympic Stadium, but apparently Usain Bolt and Mo Farah did train here!
|Finishing straight (and burger van)!|
I crossed the finishing line, collected my medal and goody bag and met up with Glen. He was there to support me and take photographs as always, which was lovely as I know it is not easy for him to watch runners as he is out of action with an IT Band injury at the moment. All finishers were given a Lola’s Cupcake so I gave mine to Glen to thank him for hanging around and watching me!
My times were:
400m Swim: 11:24
15k Cycle: 39:45
5k Run: 32:12
Gutted at my swim and run times, as for me these are much slower than I am capable of. The misinformation and misdirection from the marshalls added so much to my split times, as well at the walking sections of the run. I’m pretty disappointed overall, but I’ll learn from this experience. Bring on Tri for Life next weekend- hopefully a better race!
I’ve raised £125 so far for Leonard Cheshire disability, I’d really appreciate any more donations through my Just Giving page.