The Triathalon Team

Simon Lemon
Dean Simpson
Ashley Dunn
Aaron Saddler-Smith

28th August – 5th September 2021

London to Paris Triathlon 2021

On 15th September 2020, Aaron, Ash, Dean and I successfully completed a 4 person relay swim of the English Channel, in a time of 15.5 hours. It was a truly awesome experience, but completed pretty much ‘on the back of a fag packet’!

This year, with a channel pilot already booked, we wanted to challenge ourselves further – and at the same time, be bit more organised! We therefore looked to add an extra element to the Channel Swim and after much soul searching and ideas bounced around by the team, I came across the London to Paris 4 person Relay Triathlon, Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe.

It all seemed pretty straight forward. Run 78 miles from London to Dover, swim 21 miles across the English Channel and then cycle 181 miles from Calais to Paris. Each of us would run, swim or cycle for an hour and then swap over. So finally with a plan, our preparations and training started in earnest. We knew we could swim, but none of us had run for any great time or distance and only Dean had a road bike!

And then of course, as with the rest of the world, Covid was a huge factor.

For 10 months between working in our different jobs, sometimes away from home and juggling family life, we trained and we trained hard… I literally had to learn how to ride a road bike with clip-ins! But as the date got closer, we were faced with potential restrictions on travel to France, which put the whole Triathlon in jeopardy. We therefore came up with a number of contingencies and settled on a Covid version of the original.

We would swim the English Channel, cycle a circular route from Dover and then run from Dover to London.

The swim window we had on the Pilot boat Masterpiece was from 28th August – 5th September. In the month leading up this, all was set. Unlike last year, the training had gone well and we had even trained a lot together. The logistics were all in place and we were ‘good to go.’

But on the 27th August, I had a conversation with the Pilot who said there had been no swimming for the last 2 weeks in The English Channel, due to the unseasonably high winds and it looked unlikely that we would get to swim within our window!

So it was back to the drawing board and decisions had to be made. Were we going to wait throughout our whole window and see if could we swim? Were we going to crack on with a contingency plan? and if a contingency, what was that going to be? or were we just going to ‘sack it’?

Following a number of conversations with the Pilot and looking at the long term forecast, we made the decision that it was better to do something, rather than waiting for the end of the swim window and have not done anything. We decided to ‘roll the dice’ and came up with the London to Paris Triathlon version 2.0.

The plan was to Run from Marble Arch in London to Salisbury, Cycle from Salisbury to Plymouth and then swim the distance of the English Channel in Plymouth Sound. So, on Wednesday 1st September we travelled up to Central London, where we were hosted by White Watch at Paddington Fire Station. And with a short walk to Marble Arch, at 1600 hours Dean started the journey back to Plymouth.

It’s difficult to put into words the high and lows of the Run, Cycle and Swim. Needless to say it was hard. As with all endurance events, the lack of sleep added to the physicality, but 48 hours after Dean started, I finished our last swim in Plymouth Sound.

In my job, contingency planning is our ‘bread and butter’ and we are always looking for contingencies. When working with the elements, there is always the potential that conditions are just not suitable to complete the challenge. And for the London to Paris Triathlon this (and Covid 19) proved to be the case. But I think the alternative was pretty good. In fact I would go on to say, it was probably harder than doing the original.

I would like to thank our specific sponsors for this challenge and a huge thank you to our support crew of Steve and Brad.

Along the way, we met some fantastic people and we were able raise awareness of PTSD in the Emergency Services and Men’s Cancers. So, job done.

Now we move our attention to the next Challenge…The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

Support us

Status Code 14 is an endurance challenge team consisting of serving and retired police officers, taking on a series of 5 extreme challenges across the globe, over 5 years.

All to support mental health in the UK Police force.