#WTSLeeds - Leeds Triathlon
What a weekend #WTSLeeds was for the Yorkshire triathletes. Was the same the case for the weekend warriors who pay £73.31 (sprint distance with all the fees) to race the same course as the pros?
As an avid triathlete, a resident of Leeds and a Leeds based business owner I personally wanted this event to be a show case of the city. Following Teamtribox involvement in arranging the Tour De Yorkshire and the huge success of that event we were very excited to be involved in any dry runs that the race organisers may have been running in the build up to the event. When none came we had every faith in the biggest triathlon event organisers in the world to put on an amazing show in the heart of the city.
With almost a month to go to the event the amount of information that had been sent out was minimal and we did start to get a little worried about some of the issues that travelling triathletes where going to have if they want to make the most of the Leeds Triathlon. So we wrote to our local councils about the pot holes on the route as this was a real concern to the team. Mainly due to the widths of some of the roads and the size of the pot holes might have meant the triathletes where going to puncture and potential DNF, which we wanted to avoid as far is possible.
The Leeds council sprang into action marking the pot holes within days of them being made aware by us and then waiting till after all the chance of frost had passed before relaying large sections of roads and even waiting till the week before the event to relay whole sections of the city centre in preparation for the biggest triathlon event to hit Leeds.
So how did #WTSLeeds go?
As a resident of Leeds for the past 15 years I have a good knowledge of the city layout having trained for marathons, triathlons and sportive around the city over the years. So I know it well. When the locations of T1 & T2 where announced I was personally worried about how this might detract from the race day experience for the masses to the benefit of the pros.
The race day preparation.
On the Friday we registered for the event in the city centre which was no great issue for us as we were in the city anyway. We picked up our race pack but we were shocked that we didn’t get our race bags. We asked the team there where we got the bags and they advised that you would pick them all up from T2, which turned out not to be right.
Post registration we did what we always do which is put on the race chip and mark up your bike and helmet so that there is as little chance as possible to not get in and out of transition on the day of the race. Once we had registered we thought that we would be able to drop our run bag in town so that then we only had one transition to do on the Saturday in Roundhay. This wasn’t the case, so if we were doing race prep in 2017 – (Which we will almost certainly be doing) we would recommend to register as late in the day on the Saturday morning so that you can then do registration in the city and shoe bag drop at the same time.
On the Saturday before the race one of our ambassadors was racing in the aquathon so we went up to support them as the whole point of inventing Triathlonbox was to get as involved in the sport as we could. At the same time as doing this we checked our bike into transition at Roundhay Park after the 1400 opening time (opening time correct for 2016 race) – the procession of triathletes at 1400 was very large and the team there struggled to get organised so I would suggest that if your racing in 2017 leave it an hour like we did and there were no queue at all.
Once we had done T1 check in we drove into town to do the T2 shoe check in. What we saw there was not ideal. Admittedly the T2 check in only had trainers and possibly a change of clothes (if like us you expected some teething problems) – we saw members of the public quite happily walking round T2 with no ID checks and they could have been helping themselves to anything that they could find in that transition.
Once we had checked in to T1 & T2 we were ready to relax and take in the city and the atmosphere a little and had a chance to walk round the expos. Which were a little difficult to get too on the day of the event.
If you'd like to see how we got on in the Leeds Triathlon - Read race reports.
The ideal way to prep for #WTSLeeds 2016
This is the ideal way to get ready for the Leeds triathlon assuming that the race is still on the Sunday in 2017 and that you are prepared to deal with the road closures and ensure that you approach the car park from the correct direction. This only works if the organisers listen to some of the feedback from the triathletes that raced in 2016.
Check in around 1100 on the Saturday into the city centre – Ideally at this point you would be given all your race bags
Fill your T2 bag with your trainers and a change of clothes – remember that you will need to put your helmet and bike shoes in the bag so don’t fill it too much. Rest the bag on the floor don’t tie it to the railings as you are going to struggle to get into it once to rack your bike after your race.
Enjoy Leeds city for the rest of the Saturday – Try not to get too drunk!!
Treat T1 as a normal race day (as if you have you race day bags you should be able to pack them pre-race) – Get up early, have your breakfast load the car and head down the Roundhay park nice and early ready to race this epic event.
Enjoy the race.
Brilliant points of the race
The swim - the lake was incredibly clean - well done Leeds City Council
The bike course - weeks before the race the route was in a poor condition with pot holes all along the route - but again Leeds City Council picked this up and re-laid huge sections of road and I've not seen a single complaint about that. Which makes me Very Happy.
The sprint bike route was fantastic - the Olympic route could have been a little better but understand that the city has to still function.
The support through the city was amazing on the bike and the run.
I personally really enjoyed the multi lap run. Few people saying it was a little boring but understand why you designed it like that to avoid some of the larger slopes / hills that are in the city centre.
The marshals as always did a top job - even if some of them looked a little beaten up by the end. They are here to help us and should be able to enjoy their day to. Be nice to them even if you're struggling.
The free bangers & flags that were being handed out for the pros really got the kids involved. These could maybe have been handed out earlier but understand that the sponsors what to be on TV.
Things that could be improved
- Email communication was poor pre race. I received my confirmation email that I had paid, but then nothing else. It's a good job the team are active on social media as we would have not known. My brother is not active on social media and relied on me to send him race day packs and all the information that I could get from social media. The information for people travelling to the city needs to be much further in advance - they have to plan, trains (3 months before to get best prices), hotels (months before to ensure there are rooms) and family commitments if they need to arrange babysitting/pet care etc.
- The race day packs had reference to London triathlon in. Ctrl F is a very helpful check in word to ensure that you replace all reference to the race you have cribbed your report from. The information in their was confusing - should have been given to local club triathletes before to walk through the instructions - I am sure LBT members would have done this for you for free as they wanted this event to be the best it could be.
- Race bags issued at check in – this will stop fellow triathletes from having to do multiple trips into the city. We all had the stickers issued so we could have labelled the bags ourselves.
- More port aloo’s at Roundhay and better maintenance as they were really grim, (and as most of you will now have seen – it's not grim up north any more) by 0900.
- A changing facility possibly for the triathletes. I know a great number of people got changed in the port loos which as above where not ideal.
- The location of T2 exist could have been closer to the water so that the difficult bike balancing with your bag was kept to a minimal. It was also on a steep hill which I saw people slip on - from a logistics point of view I completely understand the bags having to be dropped where they were to give access to the rear entrance of the park. This might mean a longer swim to T1 run but I think triathletes will thank you for it in the long run, (Long run... Did you see what I did there!)
- Greater security checks on T2 check in - there were people with push chairs and members of the public wondering round this secure area. On T2 bike exit security was excellent.
- Give fellow triathletes a fighting chance to mount the bike and set up the pro / corporate section further back up the hill. Or set up the cooperates in T1 so they have the same transition times and then move the racking into place for the pros in the two hours after the last person leaves the park. This will give everyone a change to load into their bike shoes before the hill rather than on it. I stood and watched for an hour pre swim and saw 30% manage to get into their shoes with a little difficulty, 20% struggle, 45% really struggle 5% fall or fail to get into their shoes. I saw one SUPER HERO, go up the hill while doing constant track stands, he then came back down the hill against the flow of 20 other triathletes to load into his shoes - then once loaded in going downhill he destroyed the hill to the loudest cheer I heard of the day! If that is you please get in touch as I'd like to give you a medal for bike skills.
- Run bands for those doing the Standard distance as 108 people did a short run according to the chip timing system.
- Tidy up T2 - as a Leeds resident I know that you have made an effort with T2 as it was tidier than it has been in the past. I have seen pictures of rusty nails and hyperaemic needles which is terrible for 2,500 triathletes in bear feet.
- A great number of people are saying that the post race food was not ideal. With no t shirt / goodie bag that triathletes would normally expect - the lack of a salty product post race was not ideal, I know most races give something with salt in post race to aid hydration.
- Bags to be moved from Roundhay could be dropped in the back of T2 rather than the centre of town – a lane could be blocked off on the back road in to T2, just off the A64 (M) & the A58 (M) ring road, so the logistics team could easily move from Roundhay round the inner ring road and come out at the back of T2. I have a logistic and planning back ground and there were never enough people in Roundhay to organise the bags. I’d then have the bag drop team in T2 and more people sorting them in town rather than at Roundhay. Fellow triathletes will be much more understanding of a wait in town than having to go back to Roundhay post-race when most were not expecting that to happen.
- People were also turned away from the buses post race with their bikes - this should have been thought out. Post an Olympic race triathletes really should be able to get their bikes back to the start as when I went back to Roundhay at 1800 there were still maybe 500 cars in the car park to be collected. It is all uphill back to Roundhay a marshalled guided route into and out of the city would have been ideal. I helped 5 fellow triathletes who where miles off track on Saturday and Sunday, even giving one a lift in my car up the hill with their bike.
- Think about T2 close time - everyone that has competed wanted to watch the pros but had to miss part / all of it as T2 closed quite soon after the pro race so people had to move their bikes before the pro race.
- Where were the presentations for the age groupers? I’d have been really upset if I’d have placed in age group and not got a chance to stand on the podium for a brief moment in front of the amazing crowd. Plus it would have given the crown a double level of entertainment while the pros did their swim out of the city.
- Getting round the city was a night mare when the race went through the city. Why not have some walk over points which could double as amazing TV camera / VIP points to watch the pro race, plus giving extra advising space and getting people round the city. Which in turn would make the expos more accessible - I am sure that you will get back feedback from them, as we chose not to exhibit Triathlonbox this year (having been at London last year) due to the location of the expo's in the city.
The race in Numbers 2016 - Sprint distance
- 1059 Triathletes in total (1034 where GBR, 25 triathletes where from 12 other countries)
- 3 people didn’t count their bike laps correctly – Read the instructions….
- The fastest swim time was 10:28
- The fastest T1 time was 4:38 (someone did it in 1:21 but that must be a chip issue as transition was 0.84 miles long which would mean they would have to have average 37mph through transition)
- The fastest bike time was 33.42 which gives an average speed over the 15mile ride of 26.7mph
- The fastest run was an amazing 16.39 for a 5km which is amazing work
- 3 triathletes counted their laps wrong and did a short run
- Giving an overall best time of 1h 6mins and 34 seconds which is an incredible time.
The race in Numbers 2016 - Standard distance
- 1997 Triathletes in total (1995 where GBR, 42 triathletes where from 16 other countries)
- 15 people pulled out on the bike
- The fastest swim time was 18:02 (this was the first triathlete to finish the race)
- The fastest T1 time was 2:10 (this must have been a corporate competitor which means that it wasn't a fair race for everyone)
- The fastest bike time was 57:43 which gives an average speed over the 25mile ride of 25.9mph
- 108 triathletes counted their laps wrong and did a short run - or pulled out on the last run lap
- The fastest run was an amazing 35:38 for a 10km which is amazing work
- Giving an overall best time of 2h 02mins and 43 seconds which is an incredible time.