What are the London Classics?
The London Classics is an award you receive if you complete a series of endurance events: the London Marathon, Ride London and the Serpentine Swim. These events can be completed in any order and over any time frame, but once you have completed all three you are awarded the huge London Classics medal.
In 2019 I completed the London Marathon and Ride London and my aim is to complete the trilogy and get the medal. Here is my story.
How do I get into endurance sports?
I had always enjoyed sport but as a child I didn’t find myself fitting in at team sports so participated in individual events like yoga and horse-riding. Horse-riding was my first love as I relished the adventure but found it difficult when I was unable to ride horses anymore so I then took up cycling to find the same sense of freedom. When I moved to Bournemouth I started to enjoy running; being close to the sea and seeing the landscape change month-to-month. (I also found myself eating out more when I moved down there so had to find a way to balance that out!)
Over time I began to hit a plateau with cycling and running; daunted at the tasks of facing yet another long run or cycle each day. That’s when I joined a triathlon club and added swimming to my repertoire.
I hadn’t swam since school so enjoyed getting back into it and after finding a good coach with the tri-club, I fell back in love with the sports, getting that addiction again.
My London Classics Journey
The classics award is relatively new and something that I wasn’t aware of before applying for the marathon, but found out during my training, and given I’m always up for a challenge, the prospect of completed an elongated triathlon appealed to me!
I applied to Ride London after not getting into the marathon through the ballot, but then as luck would have it, I managed to get into the marathon with a charity place and also into Ride London through the ballot, facing a few months of intense training.
Completing the marathon took my drive and enthusiasm for the cycle event away, feeling exhausted after it. The London Marathon is such a well-known event but external pressures weighed heavy with the aim to hit a donation target and everyone you speak to asking what time you want to achieve. So coming into Ride London I was a bit daunted by it. But could not have been any more wrong. I loved the challenge of a 100 mile cycle and without any time or donations targets, I could enjoy it at my own pace. It was lovely to see the hilly but beautiful county of Surrey and take me out of the normal cycling routes I had become accustomed to.
After completed the cycle I felt amazing and wanted to do it again, but knew I only had the two mile Serpentine swim to complete the London Classics.
The London Marathon
As mentioned earlier, I entered the ballot and didn’t get in but managed to get a charity place, running for Bloodwise. This was particularly poignant for me as my best friend was suffering with lymphoma and chose the charity closest to her, managing to raise £7000 in the process. The highlight was the support I received throughout the day, particularly two primary school friends coming all the way to see me complete it.
Finishing the event, I felt exhausted, not feeling like I’d done anything special and close to passing out. The marathon is so huge event, but the feeling of finishing was almost anti-climactic, until I managed to find everyone at Trafalgar Square and couldn’t stand up anymore!
One of the things that sticks with me to this day is how noisy the whole run was. Supporters shouting and screaming the whole way around, that the quietness you got under the bridges was a welcome relief amidst all the mania; although the feeling crossing Tower Bridge and knowing that I was halfway through was a particular highlight for me.
Swimming is something I have only taken up seriously in the last few years. I love swimming, particularly open water, and spend a couple nights a week at the reservoir near me in London getting laps in – all with the aim of completing the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Those two miles will feel like the finishing straight in a two-year long triathlon!
My ambitious plan was to complete the trio in 2019. I had applied for the swim and was successful, but a holiday meant I couldn’t complete all three in the same year. So the swim was planned for 2020. However this has had to be shelved again, after a coronavirus-affected wedding I was attending has been rearranged for the same day. 2021 it will have to be! By which time, I would have collected all three individual medals and the prized London Classics medal. My plan then will be to have them framed together and presented as a keep sake of my journey and the amazing experiences I encountered on the way!
The Shirt Framing Service’s Running, Cycling and Tri Framing can be found here.