Home Chat General Chat

Which London Tri??

After doing the London Marathon a few years ago I am thinking of doing a triathlon next year. I originally just thought about the Virgin London Triathlon as I thought this was the biggest one in London, however on looking i've seen the ITU Triathlon and that it does the same course as the Olympics. I am likely to do just the one olympic distance triathlon as a challenge and so want to do the best one for beginners as well as the overall experience. Any ideas on which one would be best greatly welcome! I live in London so hence the London theme. Planning early as I get the vibe that triathlons are becoming the 'thing to do' so don't want to completely miss the entry date (also very sad and overly organised!). Thanks in advance x


  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Not really able to comment as such as never done it but thought you need a reply at least. As I understand it the Virgin London Tri is hugely popular which is not to be confused with the best or the one that is most appropriate for a first timer. Need to be quick off the mark as it fills up quickly.

    Biggest moan I have heard, apart from the price, is the standard of riding, riders 5-6 abreast, not understanding what to do when a quicker riders shouts that they want to come through, drafting unintentional and deliberate. With a large field and at times constrictive roadspace, a 2 lap race where faster riders encounter large groups of meandering back markers tempers can get fraught; natural bunching can occur but every year the same moan crops up and this may mar your experience. I dare say a lot of people do it in the same way they do the London Marathon, to tick the box.

    There are however, oodles of events which are lower profile and offer a friendlier and more fulfilling experience and at a lower price.
  • Just did the Virgin London Tri yesterday at Olympic distance, so can share some thoughts on that one. This event was the big one for me this year, but on reflection I feel vaguely disappointed although pleased to have ticked it off. Major gripe for me was the travel - left excel at 5.30 got home 9.20 for a journey of 22 miles. Don't be tempted to go by car (although you are encouraged to do so in the race pack)! Loads of roadworks around the venue & poor signposting. Luckily, not a problem for you as a Londoner! Swim - great venue, good fun but with some fairly uncompromising tactics on show. Bike - tricky, as Zacnici has outlined. Basically, the field is so large that the minute you overtake you find yourself in the draft zone of someone else & you won't find clear air for long. Run - fantastic atmosphere- loved it! Conclusion? - logistical nightmare overshadowed a great day. Sheer scale meant that it lacked the friendly atmosphere of smaller events. It's Hyde Park for me next time.
  • NettyNetty Posts: 9
    Thanks both. Going on what you've said it does sound as though the hyde park one may be better - closer to me as well! Looking at it a bit more as well I notice that it will be on the olympic course - just emailed them as just want to double check if there having a 'normal' tri as well as the one connected to the olympics
  • NettyNetty Posts: 9
    Just emailed the ITU Tri people as was suggesting on the website that it would just be the olympics tri next year, and it is! the ITU tri is therefore not on next year so I guess its the London one for me - at least it saves me making a decision!
  • stevsterstevster Posts: 73
    In that case go for Winsdor, I did the, now called Virgin triathlon last year and was really disappointed.
    I was staying just south of the river at my brothers, but couldnt find the way as the signage was useless, everyone was ending up down dead ends trying to find the way.
    Finally got there very late, had to pay 15 quid to park in the Excel !!!!!!!!!!
    Rushed around to the start and straight in the water. Swim was ok not too crowded but I think that was just luck that I didnt have a huge wave.
    Bike was constantly trying to get round people of all abilities and (as said earlier) not understanding the moving over bit.
    Run was rubbish, I managed a 45 min which is a little slower than normal but I quite literally had to pass over 100 people before I finished.

    Nice to have done but wont be doing it again Im afraid.

    Rant over ;o))))
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    My first ever tri was London (sprint distance) - I won entry so to comment on the price isn't really valid, but having had two more seasons since then there's no way I would return to the London tri at the price they charge.

    As already said, the bike course is congested; in 2008 there were some roadworks too, and there were narrow sections where passing was just impossible. The swim was fine for me as I was at the back anyway and didn't get biffed. The run was quite nice - round the dockside, good atmosphere.

    Now that I know "better", I wouldn't want to race my bike in those conditions - do the race if you want but don't expect to race fast unless you can get off the front straight away, and even then, it's so big that there are loads of waves, so you WILL hit traffic, and it probably will be nupties ;-)
  • I will second Stevster on the Windsor Tri - I will definitely be back there next year. Far more enjoyable than the London while still being big enough to get that sense of achievement. Good luck whichever one you choose, they all have their plusses & minuses.
  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    Plenty of people knock London tri - but it is a great event - I did the sprint back in 2009 and have gone back this year and did the Olympic ( have done many other tri's including Ironman and halfs etc). The atmosphere and marshalling is fantastic and to cycle through London without any traffic is also great - and to be honest the Oly price of £85 ish isnt that bad compared to other olympic distance tri's this year. Admittedly the sprint is expensive at about £78.

    The swim can be very busy and hectic with waves of upto 600 people - this year they split the start of the waves into 2 mini waves 2 mins apart to avoid some of the washing machine effect. The bike is busy but most of the bike is wide enough to overtake without drafting. The run is flat and great seeing the planes taking off at the City Airport the other side of the docks.

    Havent done the Hyde Park one but it is on my list.
  • otterkotterk Posts: 1
    Have to agree with what MadDog2020 and Zacnici say - I did the Virgin London Tri on Saturday (female sprint wave) and whilst it was good to be part of the biggest tri in the world, I would never do it again.

    Swim in the dock was good fun, well-marked, and the wave organisation was good in terms of them asking faster swimmers to step to the front so as to minimise the chances of newbies or less-confident swimmers getting swum over. Run was good, nice run along the dockside, and a fun atmosphere out on the course with loads of supporters lining the route to give you a boost. However, it's the bike course that lets it down. Usually my favourite part of the tri, I was frustrated by the tightness of the course in some places (particularly near the Excel) which made it impossible to pass others, and the lack of awareness on the part of other riders about faster riders coming up from behind. A couple of riders were also close to cutting me up by trying to dodge through the gap between me and the person on the left that I was overtaking - nice way to potentially cause an accident, perhaps the draft-busters on the motorbikes should look out for that seeing as how it's impossible to police drafting given the number of people on the course. The speed-reducing measures in place on the roads for normal traffic (small yellow speed bumps, grippy tarmac sections) made parts of the ride positively unpleasant, and I got off the bike frustrated because I knew I could have gone faster had there been fewer people on the course.

    It's a fairly well-organised event, and the signposting on the course and around transition is very good once you get there - the map in the race pack showing the course is rubbish! Marked positions in transition would be nice though, the person next to me had very lazily re-racked their bike in my spot when I got back from the bike, so I had to squeeze mine in where I could. On getting there, go by public transport if you live in London - you can take your bike on the District Line to West Ham and then ride down the road to the Excel (the queues of traffic to get away from the Excel looked horrific).

    London Tri is great for promoting the sport and is a great try-a-tri event, but I think, like the London to Brighton Ride, it's a bit too big for it's own good. I'll be heading to Hyde Park for my next London-based tri.
  • First year doing Triathlons last year and did the Hyde Park Sprint distance and loved it. Had done Blenheim earlier in the year which was really busy and compared to that Hyde Park was an oasis of calm. Smaller field and fairly strict cut-off times mean that there is less dodging of people on mountain bikes. This also means that as a first timer it can be quite intimidating as some of the other competitiors were clearly leagues above me. The course is pretty flat and is quick which helped my confidence a lot.

    Doing my first Olympic distance there tomorrow so have fingers crossed from another smooth running event.
  • jcs356jcs356 Posts: 37
    Last weekend was my 10th Docklands based London Tri. I did the sprint back in 2002 and the olympic distance 2003 onwards. I think this year will be my last. It's just got far too expensive, especially when you factor in two trips to East London if you're racing Sunday pm to rack one day and race the next.

    Watched the woman's ITU race on the BBC red button earlier - full race repeat is being shown.

    The problem with all these big events is their sheer scale necessitates ever increasing cost. I did Windsor several years ago but wasn't impressed with the organisation so haven't been back.

    think I'm done with racing in London and will look for cheaper local events (doing the Reading Olympic Tri mid Sept - that was only £60 from memory).
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    Sorry, but I disagree that scale drives cost in the direct way that you suggest. The London tri, whilst being an organisational phenomenon, is also grotesquely overpriced. And look at the difference in pricing between the distances. That, IMO is unjustified. I vote with my wallet and don't pay £75 for an hour's racing.
  • jcs356jcs356 Posts: 37
    What I meant was a club or local event can get away with a process which involves sign-on and race on the same day. Bigger events mean registering and racing on 2 different days, which means 24/7 security for example. Or the docklands tri which involves hiring Excel centre.

    What I do object to is profiteering. London docklands tri has got bigger year on year, however I'd hazard a guess that the fixed costs have remained pretty stable give or take inflation. So say it costs £100k to hire the Excel for the event. If you've got 10000 people entered, that's a tenner of each entry fee to cover the Excel hire; yet this year they had 16000 entries so if anything, that should have gone down, but no, the cost goes up. Back in 2002 the docklands tri took place on one day - sprint was first thing, then olympic races were later. I reckon there weren't many more than 1000 entries - so with the fixed costs now divided up into many more how come the cost has increased massively. Out of interest, I've checked back to 2002 and the sprint race at London cost £50, it's £79 for 2012, so an increase of £29 over 11 years.
  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    I think people forget that to have closed roads costs money - especially in London - and to quote the above cost increase for a sprint from £50 to £79 in 11 years IMO is nothing considered to the cost increases in other things in the last 11 years - look at fuel costs for instance ...

    I am not defending the price increases but I think we as triathletes complain about the price of events but then go and spend huge amounts on crap just because someone says it will gain us 5 seconds over a 2 hour event ..... go figure.

    IMO London Triathlon (Docklands) Standard distance is good value for money and is a great event ... yes its busy and not cheap ... but other events are as expensive and you get less for your monet ... racing through London on closed roads is great. BTW I tink standard distance is only about £10 more thans sprint, I would assume this is due to the fixed costs been pretty much the same for both events and ultimately people willing to pay for that ...

    So an IM branded IM distance event these days costs upwards of £300
    An IM branded 70.3 costs upwards of £200
    London tri, & other similar events are £90 ish

    Sorry for the rant but I just don't get the complaints ... if you don't like paying for it then don't do it .. there are plenty of other people that will do ..

    Ohh btw I resent paying £300 plus for IM so this year have gone for the £100 cheapy option of doing the BIG Woody
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    I'm surprised by how little, in absolute terms, the London Tri has increased in 11 years then. But I'm not whingeing about it, I'm just staying agay
  • wyno70wyno70 Posts: 189
    I've done both.

    The thing to bear in mind is that the ITU race does have a time cut off (3 hours on the Sunday) and as such, this scares off a lot of the crowd that The London Triathlon (Docklands) attracts.

    Both are great mass participation events with good crowds etc but due to long transitions aren't particularly time friendly, i.e. despite both being relatively flat, you are highly unlikely to set a pb (or indeed get near it) at either.

    Depends what you are looking for really, London tri has much more of a 'charity runner' kind of feel to it, whereas the ITU race has a bit more glitz and serious event feel and it's great to watch the pro's do it after.

    Having said all of that, as mentioned, ITU London now not happening until 2013 due to the Olympics.

    I've done them both once (as a Londoner I felt I should) but have ticked the box and won't be going back to either, I much prefer smaller, more intimate events.
Sign In or Register to comment.