By Merryn Sherwood on 03/08/11 at 2:10 am
London has been a round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series since its inaugural year in 2009, but this year offers a new twist in the English capital.
The 2011 course will venture beyond the boundaries of Hyde Park as the athletes tackle the London 2012 Olympic course, with a bike leg that encircles world famous Buckingham Palace. This weekend is the first and last time athletes will get the chance to race on the course that will determine the next Olympic champions, and therefore the perfect time to take a closer look.
The swim takes place in the Serpentine, as in previous editions, with a pontoon start on the north side of the lake. Contrary to past years, athletes will swim just one full lap of 1500m, versus two laps in previous years. The one lap swim is similar to the 2008 Beijing Olympic course. They will exit the swim and head into transition, where there is a great area for fans to watch some of the most exciting triathlon action the ITU has to offer.
From there, the world’s best will quickly be onto the flat, fast and technical bike course. This is the major difference from previous years as the course goes past the boundaries of Hyde Park for the first time. In 2011, the 40km ride starts on Serpentine Road and athletes head out in the direction of West Carriage Drive. Athletes will then cycle via South Carriage Drive towards Hyde Park Corner where the loop leaves Hyde Park to go down Consitution Hill to Buckingham Palace. In front of Buckingham Palace athletes turn to go back up Constitution Hill and across Hyde Park Corner into Serpentine Road, where the race pack will then pass the transition area and grandstands on every single loop. The bike course is generally flat with no climbs. A few speed bumps and tight turns are set to make it technically demanding.
ABOUT HYDE PARK
Acquired by King Henry VIII in 1536, the park was originally used as a hunting reserve where deer were kept for the purpose of sport. King James I opened the park to the public in 1637 and it has since become one of the most popular places in the city to visit for locals and tourists alike.
Athletes will then come back through transition to finish the course on the 10-kilometre four-lap run, which circles the Serpentine again. The lead out is the same as the bike, but before reaching the corner of West Carriage and South Carriage Drive they will need to turn back and run down towards the southern edge of the Serpentine. The elite athletes will run along the edge of Serpentine, passing the Lido, and then run counter-clockwise around the eastern part of the Serpentine before coming back on Serpentine road. From there it’s approximately 750m straight on into the transition area. The finish is in front of the grandstands on the western edge of Serpentine Road.
The course is also designed with fans in mind, as athletes like Alistair Brownlee, Jonathan Brownlee, Javier Gomez, Jan Frodeno, Paula Findlay, Helen Jenkins, Emma Moffatt and Emma Snowsill will pass through the finish area a total of 12 times. This year’s London event is free for spectators, and at next year’s Olympics will be one of the only Olympic sports with free viewing points along the bike leg.