Uliana Kuzmis of Octopus Property recalls what it’s like to be a competitor in the AJ Bell London Triathlon, billed as one of the world’s largest annual triathlons.
The AJ Bell London Triathlon is huge. It’s been running for 21 years, and every year it attracts more than 14,000 swimmers, cyclists and runners, from first-timers to fully-fledged Olympians. One of the reasons why it’s so popular is the route it takes. Participants are lured in by swimming in the Royal Victoria Dock, and cycling or running around the London Docklands, with the added thrill of accelerating past some of the capital’s most famous landmarks.
And yet, despite being a dedicated runner, I never thought I could take part in the London Triathlon. It looked like a very serious event for very serious athletes. So, in 2017, when Octopus sent out an all-company invitation for teams to sign up and take part in the AJ Bell London Triathlon, I decided against signing up. In fact, I only got involved later on, when a runner in one of the teams dropped out with an injury, so I stepped in to help out.
Race day adrenalin
As I approached the Royal Victoria Dock on the race day, I could not help but feel extremely excited. The energy levels and the race buzz on this event are phenomenal! Being able to take part in it as part of the Octopus team felt just awesome. It was so satisfying to see so many Octopus athletes taking part as many of us had Octopus vests and were clearly visible in the crowds.
I have never had to run ‘to speed’ before. But on that day, I felt so motivated to do my best to deliver for my team. One thought kept me going: “Can I push a bit harder? How fast can I go and still maintain the pace to the finish without collapsing?”
Charging across the finish line – together
For me, the best part of the race was that your team-mates are there cheering for you at the meeting point – and you get to finish the race by running the last 200 metres together with your team. That was fantastic! I was completely exhausted by that point, but seeing my teammates Tim and Domas waiting for me and running beside them gave me the extra strength I needed to finish. I earned my personal best-ever 10k time, and I haven’t managed to repeat that time since.
But that was in 2017. Sadly, I wasn’t able to participate in this year’s triathlon. I suffered an injury a few months ago that kept me on the sidelines. So, instead, this year I decided to help Octopus assemble its teams. As always happens, there were some last-minute injuries and emergency substitutions, but we managed to make sure each team had a full complement of competitors. And everyone who participated on the day competed admirably.
There were two separate competitions for Octopus people to choose from. As the name suggests, the ‘Olympic’ event is the toughest. The first leg is the 1,500-metre swim, followed by the 40-kilometre bike ride, and finishing with the 10k run. The Sprint event is no less demanding. It starts with a fast-paced 750-metre swim, followed by a full-on 20k cycle and ending with a brisk 5k run. Octopus fielded six teams in the Olympic category, and a further two teams in the Sprint division, bringing us to 24 competitors in total.
It was also important to encourage the rest of Octopus to turn up on the day and join the crowds, as I know from first-hand experience how important it is to hear people shout, whistle, scream, make noise and deliver high-fives that give you the strength to keep going. So, I’d like to thank everyone from Octopus who took time out of their weekend to make the day even more memorable for our competitors.
But my biggest thanks go to the eight unusually-named Octopus teams who participated this year. Congratulations, you all did us proud, and we hope there’s more to come in 2019.
The 2018 Octopus Triathlon teams:
- ‘Squid’: Ed Clough, Tim Meggitt, Campbell Ross
- ‘Fit, Fat, Fast’: Jess Franks, Paul Latham, Richard Barnes
- ‘Octopus’: Domas Karsokas, Nick McAuliffe, James Rochfort
- ‘MegaWatt’s The Point?’: Darren Ho, Tom Woolerton, Ed Pitt Ford
- ‘Spear’: Nicolas Akavi, Martin Stanyon, Clare Grimes
- ‘It all comes down to the bike’: Sam Goss, Thomas Robinson, James Parker
- ‘Octoptri’: James Heys, David Whiteley, Sally Nash
- ‘Tri-Angels’: Nicole Brown, Nita Colaço, Simren Sandhu