London Fields Triathlon Club are a friendly and growing club based in and around Hackney, east London. They always welcome new faces and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never done a triathlon before, or you have your eye on Kona. They have sessions and coaching standards for all abilities.
How did it all start?
The club started in autumn 2009 after a chance meeting between Chris Skinner and Guy Holbrow at London Fields Lido. Guy had a friend who was a triathlon coach, Tim Smith and the team set about starting up the club.
And how’s it grown from there?
The club has grown from around 50 in 2011 to around 120 for the last few years. Due to our location, we have a relatively high turnover and a lot of people take the opportunity to try out a session or come to handful of sessions, so in the last couple of years alone, we've had around 500 people take part in our sessions. This presents quite an administrative challenge, but it also means there's always an atmosphere of buzz and excitement in the air, especially in the spring as race season starts to get under way.
We're fortunate to have had Karl Grainger, who is a Level 3 coach, on the London Fields Tri coaching team since the club started out and both Karl and Tim have done a fantastic job of steering the coaching team for the first five years of the club. In this time, we have seen people who started at Sprint distance going on to compete at Olympic, Middle and Long distance triathlons, including representation at the ETU, ITU and IM World Championships.
Karl has also played a key role in supporting nearly 20 members to turn their hands to coaching and helping them get through their BTF coaching qualifications. We're always looking for new coaches and it's a great way to learn skills that are useful in aspects of life, not just triathlon.
The club's direction is driven by it’s members and so race ambitions change as members change, but also become more ambitious as members gain confidence and experience. We also have single-sport groups developing, with a sizeable team signed up for Xterra's Swimrun Norway ultra-race this year as well as groups planning their season around long-distance swims such as the Dart 10K and Bridge-to-Bridge.
We race in black, white and red, with a dash of green!
What training sessions are on the menu?
We are currently transitioning into our summer timetable. Much of our timetable is based on venue availability as well as daylight hours which is why things change in the spring and autumn. This summer we are expecting to offer coached bike or bike-and-run brick sessions on a Tuesday evening, swim technique and swim fitness sessions on Wednesdays, Running on Thursday evenings. In addition we have informal cycling lap sessions on Thursday mornings in Regents Park. Saturdays will be mainly focussed on group rides and from around mid-May we will be delivering open water swim sessions at Stoke Newington West Reservoir on Sunday mornings.
What is your typical riding territory?
If we make a beeline for the countryside, we normally end up in Essex as it's our shortest route out, however our members like to mix it up so we'll often be found heading down into Surrey or Kent or up into Hertfordshire and towards the edge of the Chilterns. We'll usually ride out from London Fields, but sometimes we'll take the train to maximise quality time further afield.
Does the club have any sponsors or partnerships?
We're partnered with Swift Cycles who give our members great deals on fitting, servicing and bike box hire as well as other products and services.
Do you host any events?
Yes, there are three races in the London Fields Aquathlon series each year in March, August and October, which consist of a 400m swim in London Fields Lido followed by a 5km run around London Fields (shorter distances are available for juniors). Our October Aquathlon is very popular as it is part of the London League series. Dates for 2016 are:
• 20th March
• 28th August
• 2nd October
You can find out about the London Fields Aquathlon races here: http://lftri.co.uk/aquathlon.
Tell us about any key races or events you target as a club?
This season we're focusing on London League races plus a few other club favourites for middle-distance. Our Club Sprint-Distance Championships will be held at Jetstream Triathlon and Olympic-Distance Championships will be at Thorpe Park Triathlon in July. The full list is on our website: http://lftri.co.uk/races.
Do you have a junior section of the club?
The Junior side of the club is something that we're continuing to develop. We see it as our responsibility to give this opportunity to be part of a team to all the kids in the area. We currently have a swim, run session on Mondays and are expanding this to another session on Saturday afternoons. We continue to host Junior events at our Aquathlons as well as being part of the Junior London League and hosting our event in August. We would love our own junior squad to represent East London!
What sets your club apart from other triathlon clubs in the area?
We are a young, social club full of friendly, creative and thoughtful people. We offer a lot of training sessions through the week so there is a lot of support available to our athletes. We also swim in the best* pool in London (*okay, we're a bit biased! But how many other clubs get to train in a 50m outdoor heated pool?).
Tell us a funny story or anecdote about your club/club members?
Given the club's youth, we seem to have a lot of club legends- I can't divulge them all here I'm afraid! The fact that triathletes can't count is a recurring punchline and one that is most frequently delivered by the coaching team. It meant that Head Coach Tim Smith had us chuckling all the way into the off-season last year when he accidentally ran an extra lap at the Jekyll & Hyde Duathlon resulting in the club's fastest females overtaking him and him losing out on being first in the club. Tim's reaction was a bit extreme- he's since left London and is hiking around South America for six months and plans to move home to New Zealand. We didn't meant it, Tim! You can come back any time!
Any club heroes?
There are too many to list! We have had so many dedicated people working as part of the committee since the club started and there are also many members who give a lot even if they do not have specific roles. Our committee and coaches are all voluntary, so the club is hugely grateful for their efforts. We're also very proud of so many of our members that joined us as tentative novices who have become confident competitors, making huge improvements, surpassing their expectations and becoming happy long-term members.
Does the club have any famous past members?
You meet a lot of inspiring people when you get chatting to people at LFTC, and not just through sporting achievements. We count age-group national champions as members and have had retired elite-level athletes join our ranks. Probably one of our highest-profile members is Shirin Gerami.
Shirin joined the club in 2012 and became a keen member of the club, progressing to her taking on her coaching qualifications and joining the coaching team. When the ITU Age-Group World Championships came to London in 2013, Shirin was keen to qualify and represent her country, Iran. Iran had never had a female triathlon team before and Shirin had to work hard to persuade the Iranian government to agree to let her race, including the approval of her specially designed race kit. She gained final approval only hours before the start of the race, in what was seen as a landmark for women's rights in Iran. Her participation at the World Championships made international news headlines (I personally witnessed it from the television of a hotel room in Hong Kong!) and she has gone on to represent her country in numerous world-series races, she has spoken at TED x Kish and is also continuing with her coaching career and working on projects to promote women's sport in Iran. We occasionally persuade her to come back and coach club sessions when she's around! You can read more about what Shirin is up to at shirin.co or on twitter @shiringeramitri.
Does the club have a Twitter handle / Facebook Page or website?
Yes, all of the above! See our new site at lftri.co.uk or chat to us at facebook.com/londonfieldstri or @londonfieldstri.
What is THE club social event of the year?
Ooh, tough one! In terms of numbers, probably the end-of-season social and Christmas socials. Our annual club training camp, while a big focus for training is also a big social fixture too, which has seen 30-40 members getting their fix of multi-sport and sunshine in Mallorca and Lanzarote in the last few years.
If you had to give one piece of training advice to new members what would it be?
One of the things we hear most often from new members is that they wished they'd started coming sooner! People often feel intimidated about joining a triathlon club, but soon realise there was no need to be. We take pride in being friendly and welcoming so come and see for yourself! But our overall top tip for training is to remember why you're there and enjoy it!
Annual membership fee:
Interview by Lucy Edwards from Havering Triathlon Club. You can follow her on Twitter @paddlepedalpace or her blog at www.paddlepedalpace.co.uk