ExCeL gears up for Virgin Active London triathlon

No sooner has the Paralympics left town than the ExCeL centre is set to host another of the world’s biggest sporting events.

Thousands will descend on Custom House for the Virgin Active London Triathlon, taking place this Saturday and Sunday.

Spectators are expected to rival the 55,000 who watched participants run, swim and cycle the route last year.

And this year, David Hasselhoff will join Sir Richard Branson on the celebrity team - although the Baywatch star has not confirmed what leg he will be running.

Other semi-well known faces taking part will be Louis Spence, Chelsee Healey, Jeff Brazier, Kay Burley, Oliver Phelps, Nicola McLean and Michelle Heaton.

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Beneficiaries include Cancer Research UK, WellChild, Mencap, and Age UK.

The route comprises a length in the Royal Victoria Dock, while people can opt for a 80km bike ride starting inside the ExCeL and taking in Billingsgate and Westminster.

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Runs include four 10km gruelling laps of the dockside.

Turnout is expected to be boosted by the success of Olympic gold and bronze medallists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

Celebrity traithletes last year included X Factor star Stacey Solomon, and seasoned marathon runner and ex-model Nell McAndrew.

Ritchie Nicholls won the men’s elite event in a time of one hour 45 minutes and nine seconds.

The women’s elite event was won by Jodie Stimpson in just under one hour, 57 minutes.

Spectators are advised to mingle at the ExCeL centre for the best view of the weekend’s action.

The transition, where triathletes swop from swim to cycle suits are the best places to watch.

This year, the elites will follow the same course as the age group athletes in the Olympic Distance event.

The female elites take off on the swim at about 10.20am, followed by the Male elites at 10.45am.

Visitors can expect the top male pro to be out of the water in around 17 minutes, with an hour on the bike and 35 minutes on the run.

The swim area can be viewed from the Dockside which can be accessed from either side of ExCeL.

A pedestrian bridge will be built on the east side of ExCeL so people can watch their friends and family from almost anywhere on the dockfront.

People interested in the bike section should watch from the west entrance of ExCeL, or just before the multi-storey car park.

Other options include both the walkways from the Custom House and Prince Regent DLR stations, or from under the Fox pub at ground level

The run course can be viewed anywhere outside the east of ExCeL as the route stretches along the north edge of the dock.

The run route also loops through the Expo so people can also see the runners from inside ExCeL.

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