Olympic Triathlon: Behind-the-Scenes Tour

With the Olympic Triathlon women's race just days away (Saturday 4th August at 9am), we were lucky enough to be given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hyde Park site by LOCOG's Triathlon Competition Manager John Lunt.

The building work for the triathlon site began in May. Once the events are over, the de-rig will begin and is scheduled to take until mid October. Triathlon shares the site with the Marathon Swim event, which will begin a day after the men's triathlon. 

The first thing you see when you arrive at the site is the enormous grandstand. This seating area will accommodate 3000 spectators for each race and overlooks the transition area and swim start located by the Serpentine.

The flags of every competing nation are displayed, in alphabetical order, as well as the International Triathlon Union flag. The Union Jack is displayed at both ends - an honour afforded to the host nation. 

The scoreboard next to the grandstand will display every triathlete's splits as they move through transition. Once competitors move out onto the bike and run courses in and around Hyde Park, two giant video screens will show live coverage of the race for spectators in the grandstand.   

One of the biggest challenges has been to create a level surface for the transition area. Under these boards are the sloped banks of the Serpentine, a road, a gutter and pathway. Months of bad weather hampered the building work as machinery sank into the soft ground.

The black strip of carpet in the foreground is for the track camera that will zoom up and down the transition area capturing shots of the athletes as they move between the three disciplines. A cable camera – like the ones they have at Wembley – will zip on a 1000m wire above the lake to film the swim. 

And for the first time ever in the history of Olympic Triathlon, there will be a tree in the transition area. 

The site is like a small village. As well as the grandstand and transition area, there is a huge media centre which will be open to the world's media two hours before each race and for four hours afterwards. There are two gantries for photographers - the one by the swim start has been built low enough for photographers to capture the action at a low angle.

There's a massive broadcast centre, an athlete's lounge, a secure area for storing bikes, a VIP lounge, portacabins for doping control and a large marquee to feed volunteers – there will be 2000 on each race day. There are even more than 15 back-up generators to keep everything running in the unlikely event of a power failure.

These tents will be used by the athletes on race day to recover and relax after the race. In the nearby athlete's lounge there are large noticeboards displaying essential information for all the competitors. Each country also has a pigeon hole so organisers can communicate with the athletes.

A week before the women's race, the noticeboard tells us that the water's a balmy 24C. The doping control portacabins are just round the corner from here. During the course of the Games, 6,000 blood and urine samples will be taken for athletes. A Glaxo Smith Kline lab in Harlow will work round the clock to process the tests within 24 hours. 

Triathlon Competition Manager John Lunt explains how the athletes will familiarise themselves with the course.

There are scheduled times when they can try out the swim course, and LOCOG is also committed to giving the triathletes the opportunity to ride the bike route too, which means that the roads around Hyde Park corner will be closed from 4am on Thursday 2nd August when the competitors will be bussed from the Olympic Village to central London to try out the course. 

The finishing touches being made to the finish gantry. At the end of each race, the transition area will be cleared of bikes so that the winners' podium can be moved into place in front of the grandstand for the medal ceremony. The organisers will wait until every athlete has completed the race as a mark of respect before moving the podium.

Even if you don't have a ticket for the triathlon, you might catch a glimpse of the medal ceremony from the other side of the Serpentine. To show your support for Team GB, go along to line the bike and run route. The women's race starts at 9am on Saturday 4th August, with the men's race on Tuesday 7th August at 11.30am.