Check out our in-house dream team looking to take on the Virgin London Triathlon.

After the success experienced last year at the Virgin Active London Triathlon, Team Triathlon Plus has returned with new members to take on the challenge in 2013. This year’s challengers have been carefully selected to provide a broad spectrum of abilities, from those looking to survive their first-ever triathlon to those looking to smash their PB.

The dream team will be aiming to take on the Virgin Active London Triathlon’s Olympic distance race this July with the support of Tenn Outdoors, Team Carbon Bikes, Zone 3, Limar, Polar and Saucony.

You can keep up to date with the peaks and troughs of the team members’ efforts on our online Training Zone, where you will also find all the tools you need to take your triathlon training to the next level. Simply train with your ANT+ compatible device, upload to your personal online diary and analyse your results and measure your improvements to help you reach your full potential.

The in-house dream team. (Left to right: Rich, Aimee, Jek and John).

RICH SAGE

Occupation: Laundry business owner
Age: 38
Ability: Advanced

I’ve always been really active and I played football for Thornbury Town FC in South Gloucestershire until I was 35. I’m now 38 and started swimming and cycling seriously two years ago to keep my fitness up. From the beginning, I trained with some really experienced triathletes and eventually I learnt to keep up with them, in the pool and on the road.

I did my first triathlon in 1999 and loved everything about it – the pain, the intensity, the training but most of all the feeling when you cross that finish line utterly exhausted but equally exhilarated.

I now run a laundry business and I am fortunate enough to be able to do most of my training during the week. I tend to swim most mornings and either run or cycle during the day. Although I am a pretty decent runner, cyclist and swimmer when I do these sports individually, I struggle putting it all together and often feel that I don’t reach my full potential during multi-sport events. This fear is only exacerbated by the fact that I have heard that the transition area at the London race is a bit of a maul and difficult to navigate with people and bikes literally everywhere.

I really want to take advantage of the relatively flat course in London. I am aiming for a 30-minute swim time, a one-hour bike and a run split of 36 minutes. I am under no illusion that to get there I am going to have to train hard, but with the support of the team I am going to give it my all.

JEK BRADLEY

Occupation: Staff Writer, Triathlon Plus
Age: 25
Ability: Intermediate

Sport has always played a prominent part in my life and I spent most of my formative years playing tennis. However, by the time I left university it was clear that despite being a decent county player, I was never going to be the next Maria Sharapova – it was time to try something new.

So, with a borrowed wetsuit, an oversized bike and old running trainers, I entered and survived my first ever triathlon in 2010. The race flew by and it signalled the beginning of my love affair with the sport. I have completed loads of crazy endurance challenges since then, including cycling Land’s End to John O’Groats in six days, and 2013 is shaping up to be no different. I plan to attempt my first ever middle-distance race, Ironman 70.3 UK, before taking on the Virgin Active London Triathlon with the team.

Swimming has always been my weakest discipline in tri and my appalling technique means that I am often shadowed at events by a panic-stricken safety guy in a kayak who thinks I am about to drown. I have, however, knuckled down this winter and with the help of a very patient friend and coach, I no longer resemble someone who is in desperate need of lifeguard assistance.

My biggest hurdle is going to be staving off injury. I have an aversion to rest days and an over-enthusiastic attitude towards training. This means at the start of the season I’m usually burnt out or nursing a preventable injury – this time it’s plantar fasciitis. However, only fools fail to learn from their mistakes and I need to learn the art of patience if I want to achieve my full potential.

JOHN WHITNEY

Occupation: Staff writer, ProCycling
Age: 29
Ability: Intermediate/beginner

Ever since Alistair Brownlee won gold last summer and became a household name, I’ve lost count of the times people have pointed out that we look a bit alike. But what if the likeness stretches beyond our boyish good looks? Perhaps we also share a talent for triathlon? Sure, it’s unlikely, but I’ll soon find out.

I’ve run and swum a fair bit over the last decade but I’d never class myself as either a runner or a swimmer. It’s different with cycling. Most of my free time is spent on a bike, whether it’s training for a sportive or just socialising on a Sunday. My first racing license has just arrived, so 2013 is all about taking my interest – some would say addiction – to the next level.

All that said, you’re probably wondering why I’ve signed up to my first triathlon – my colleagues on the Procycling magazine certainly are. For me it’s all about the challenge of something new. I realised recently that I’ve never done the same event twice. I compete in one and move onto the next. It’s always somewhere new and always harder than what’s gone before. For me, it needs to be fresh and that’s how I see this triathlon at the moment, a race to get me out of bed and onto the road or into the pool in the mornings.

I won’t pretend I have no apprehension. While I’m pretty fit, it’s strictly bike fitness and on the few occasions I’ve run I’ve not been able to walk right for days. And just the idea of swimming in open water has left me waking in a cold sweat. That’s good, though. Playing it safe never got anybody, anywhere.

AIMEE HOPKINS

Occupation: Marketing Manager, Future Publishing
Age: 29
Ability: Beginner

My interest in triathlon came about by chance and during a momentary lapse into insanity I decided to enter a sprint triathlon last year. With little time to train, I huffed, puffed and staggered my way to the finish line. I was exhausted but had a real sense of achievement and a strange urge to do it all over again.

Six weeks later I was up to my neck in it in the Docklands for the sprint at the Virgin Active London Triathlon. It was quite an experience: the scale was incredible, the atmosphere was unique and I loved how first-timers, pros and celebrities were racing on the same day at the same venue.

I’m not one to shy away from a challenge and jumped at the chance to be part of the team. It’s a massive step up for me in terms of distance and I feel like I’m starting from scratch. I need to make improvements in all three areas and I’m looking forward to following a structured plan to help me get there. I have a lot to learn in a short time though, namely how to swim more than four lengths of a pool doing front crawl and how to use the gears on a bike properly.

Keep up with the team’s progress and follow them on Twitter: @TriathlonPlus #teamtriathlonplus

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