London Triathlon: The Spectator's Tale

By Londonist Last edited 113 months ago
London Triathlon: The Spectator's Tale


Well, we were never going to take part. The London Triathlon is way beyond the capabilities of a team whose collective idea of exercise is to lope down the stairs to collect our pizza. Fortunately, we have sporty friends whom we can cheer on...

When Team Pimbletts originally signed up for the London Triathlon they couldn’t have been expecting weather like this. We arrive to watch the event in a torrential downpour but it’s for a good cause: the team are raising money for the Huntington’s Disease Association. Over the next two days at the ExCeL they will swim, cycle and run their way to a target of £3,500.

Saturday saw the seven female members of the team compete over the ‘sprint’ distance. First is a 750m swim, to be undertaken in the murky waters of the Thames. As the competitors round the buoy and head back to the river’s edge we are hard pushed to recognise anyone we know. Our heart goes out to those who are floundering in the water - there’s still the small matter of a 20k bike ride and a 5k run to go.

While the team peel off their wetsuits in the transition area, we dash off to find a suitable vantage point to watch the cycling. Some of the bikes have to be seen to be believed, from state-of-the-art machines to those which look suspiciously like the ones our mothers owned in the late 1980s, complete with basket (probably containing an isotonic sports drink and some jam). It’s here that the wet weather really plays havoc with the competitors sapping them of energy ahead of the run.

Fortunately for us, the finishing line is inside the ExCeL building so we have an excuse to head for cover and cheer the team home. After more than an-hour-and-a-half of gruelling battle the seven team members come home remarkably close together. They have all done their parts brilliantly - now it’s down to the two lads to do their job in Sunday's tougher race.

We return to Docklands on the next morning to find the race already underway, this time over the full Olympic distance of 1.5k swim, 40k cycle and 10k run. We position ourselves a few kilometres into the final leg of the race. The competitors all look fresher than we do, and we have done nothing more strenuous over the last 24 hours than hold a brolly. All have a professional sportsman in their sights - Formula 1 driver and World Championship leader Jenson Button is on his way around and heading for a great finishing time. Team Pimbletts’ boys can’t quite match his time but they’re not far behind (despite a puncture with 15k still to go of the cycle), making it a triumphant weekend for all team members. And they've raised even more than their target. Well done everyone!

By Paul Lambert

Last Updated 05 August 2009