ÖTILLÖ Swim Run kit breakdown

Swim with your shoes on, run in your wetsuit – it’s a funny business doing a SwimRun event and I’ve had a lot of questions about the kit we used for OtillO on the Isles of Scilly, so here is a breakdown…

  1. SwimRun Wetsuit: There is quite a difference in features to my usual triathlon wetsuit. Short legs, zip up the front for easy breathing when running, extra flexible in the shoulders and back of the legs for running, extra buoyancy on the front and sides, zip pocket on the back and small pockets inside for nutrition and safety equipment and the option to cut the sleeves down. I didn’t do so in the hot weather on Scilly found it a bit cumbersome to strip down to the waist for longer runs and re-suit for the swims. May partner Jenny had a different suit that came short sleeve as standard, with separate full sleeves (like bike arm warmers) which seemed to work well. I used the Zone3 Evolution SwimRun https://racezone3.com/product/mens-evolution/
  2. Running Shoes: You could absolutely wear your favourite shoe for a SwimRun but there are a few things I wanted from mine – lightweight when wet as well as dry, good traction to tackle rocky shorefronts as well as tough trails that were really fell running in places, low drop, non-absorbing soles for weight and also buoyancy in the water. After a lot of research, I went for the Acceleritas5 M RB9X by Swedish brand Icebug: https://int-shop.icebug.com/swimrun/acceleritas5-m-rb9x-1
  3. Paddles: Paddles are not mandatory and there were plenty people who didn’t use them. 8km is a lot of swimming to do with paddles so I did most of my swimming in the months prior to the race in them and it was definitely tough on the arms and shoulders but overall definitely worth it. The big boys used bigger paddles but these Speedo are size small which was perfect for me.
  4. Belt/Carabiner: Jenny and I experimented in training with a tether which we decided not to use in the race (too easy to get tangled up) but I kept the belt, added a carabiner and used that to clip my paddles onto for the longer runs – it worked well and I’d do that again.
  5. Goggles: Nothing fancy or special about these  – my usual Aquasphere model.
  6. Safety Equipment: These are mandatory items – a whistle, compass and compression bandage. I ditched the bulky bandage I bought at Boots and got this little vacuum sealed pack at the race. It is very flat and easy to fit in my wetsuit. It should also be noted I have no clue how to use a compass. You will have to show these items when registering in order to collect your vest and chip etc.
  7. Swim Cap: I used the race issue silicon cap but even in the once in a lifetime weather, the water got cold. Jenny wore a neoprene headband and that’s an item I’ll add to the kit bag.
  8. Pull Buoy: Another optional aid but used by almost everyone. I poked a couple of holes in it with a kitten knife then threaded a swim ankle band through to attach it to my leg. Insert between legs for swims, move to the side for runs.
  9. Neoprene calf sleeve: These came with the wetsuit and are a must have item. Helps with buoyancy and provided some leg cover when running through bushes etc.


Black Line London’s Top Posts of 2015

Not only have there been some excellent athletic performances from BLL’rs this year, there have been some excellent literary ones too. So with the year drawing to a close, here’s a recap of our 5 most read posts of 2015.

5. Inside The Peleton by Paul Deen. Back in April Deenzy did what most triathletes never do – ride in a peleton. He wrote this great post about it, so you don’t have to.

4. Roadmap To Kona by Troy Squires. He only went and did it! Here are Troy’s tips for giving yourself the best chance.

3. Makers Gonna Make by Paul Smernicki. We got a great response to our new cycle jersey. Here’s the story behind it.

2. See Paul, I Told You You Could Do It by Paul Burton. Pablo raced a great race in his debut Kona, then wrote this great account of his day. Some boy!

1. If Carlsberg Did Race Reports by Alan Grove. No joke, this is hands down the best ironman race report ever written by anyone, anywhere, ever in all of history and by a country mile our most read post of 2015. Chapeau, Alan.

Keeping On Top Of #50days50runs

If you are doing our #50days50runs or our friends at Freespeed #30days30runs you might be finding that the body is beginning to complain a bit, especially if you are not used to consecutive days or have been doing double run days.

You can help shut that voice down with a little bit of maintenance along the way so here are few recommended and resources and tools to help keep you in tip top running form.

Kelly Starrett at MobilityWOD is the mobility guru.  His books Becoming a Supple Leopard and the slightly less weighty Ready to Run are brilliant additions to your bookshelf and will help you build a great daily 20 minute mobility that will be as fun as it will be effective.

Another great person to follow is Kinetic Rev’s James Dunne. He posts regularly with great videos and articles covering strength and conditioning, rehab and recovery and mobility for runners.

You might also want to add some tools to your toolkit – lots of runner will have a foam roller but if you don’t this one from Trigger point is a great choice – hard and durable and available in several colours. You might even have a ball to get into those nooks and tight spots but you can’t beat a lacrosse ball to really make things uncomfortable and pound for pound great value for money , plus easy to carry in your work or gym bag. Slightly more unusual but very effective is a CrossFit looped band which will really help with tight hips, ankles and IT band among many other complaints.

And if it’s mental rather than physical fortitude you need, try our Spotify Playlist and discover some new music when you’re out there getting it done.





5 Things We Learned From Box Hill 20

Box Hill 20 2015


1. When you’re with your mates, the rain doesn’t matter.

2. You spend a lot more time than you think going downhill.

3. Once you try one of Alechia van Wyk’s Death By Oreo cupcakes prepare for any other baked goods to feel pathetically substandard for the rest of your life.

4. Roger Barr must have been bored out his mind doing 73 reps when Everesting Box Hill.

5. It’s easy to lose count.

Photo: Carel Du Plessis

Makers Gonna Make

Did you know we just designed and made a new Black Line London cycle jersey? Of course you did, because we haven’t shut up about it.

But the reason we haven’t shut up about it isn’t to try and sell you one (although actually you’d look great in it, what with your stunning athletic physique) but because the whole process of making and doing is something we really love, and we’re quite proud and deeply satisfied to have produced something that people actually want to wear.

Continue reading “Makers Gonna Make”

Black Line London’s Best of 2014 Gallery.

It’s impossible to really capture what Black Line London means to our family members, but we’ll give it a go.

As 2014 draws to a close, here are some of our best bits – it might be a great photo, an important moment or just something that made us laugh.

We hope you had a great year…..see you in 2015.


BLL Andalucia

 January: Paul Deen, Paul Smernicki & Nico van der Westhuizen winter train under big skies in Andalucia.

Wokingham half marathon

February: No Wokingham Half? No problem! We arranged our own in Richmond Park. 

SA bike recce

April: First big event of the year as a delegation head to Ironman South Africa, motherland to several of the gang. Looking good on a bike course recce.


April: IMSA – James Peet finishes in spectacular style. 

Jane Mallorca

May: Ironman Mallorca 70.3 – Jane Hansom wins her age group. The Universe remains stable.


May: Ironman Mallorca 70.3 – Ashley, Paul and Team Freespeed’s Matt Molloy spend the last 5k of the run discussing the 4th discipline: How to execute the perfect photo finish.


May: It’s not all Ironman. Captured by husband Carel, Alecia makes final adjustments before the North Downs Way ultra marathon.

sexiest trio in tri

July: The self-proclaimed ‘handsomest team in tri’ dominate at Bananaman.  They told me to write that.

Outlaw finish

August: Epitomising the BLL ethos 2 grown men, one of them looking like Malibu Ken, hold hands as Paul and Sam narrowly miss the podium in The Outlaw team relay. It should be noted they were a team of 2.


August: By far the hardest thing anyone at BLL did this year was Mel Wasley’s epic adventure at Norseman. It’s insanely hard and she smashed it.

James Peet_Zell_am_See

August: Looks fast? Is fast. James Peet at Zell am See 70.3


August: Paul Smernicki completely gubbed after Ironman Copenhagen. “I said many times on the run “never again” but was front of the que to enter for 2015 the next day.”

Nico Ironman Wales Run

September: Great shot of Nico at IM Wales, sporting our new Fusion Sport kit on his his way to 3rd in AG and Kona ’15 qualification….a great day for him and us.


September: South African Wildebeest trample all over the New Forrest. Wildebeest win.


September: Dark horse Al Maher rocked up at IM Louisville without telling us, and powered to a PB. More importantly, he met Colonel Sanders who asked for a BLL T-Shirt. We told him to fuck off.


October: The big show! We were so proud to have 3 of our gang at Kona. Here, Jen gives Deenzy pure evils as they get ready for check in.


October: BLL at Kona. Jen Hill, Mary Collins, Michael Collins and Paul Deen. Envy and pride in equal measure.


October: Young Team at Park Run. Next gen, yeah?

Troy 100KM

November: Troy does a 100km run. Respect, but THAT’S JUST FUCKING NUTS BRO!! 


December: There is only one pic we could finish with. The world will soon be one person faster. Congrats Michael and Mary Collins for helping Black Line London grow……

Gifts for Athletes You Should Really Buy For Yourself

Vulpie Harrington

Because Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t enough, we at Black Line London wanted to bring you the obligatory ‘Christmas Gifts I would Like For Myself’ post.

Vulpine Harrington Jacket suggested by Paul Burton (above)

“Because I bought my sister one for Christmas last year and she absolutely adores it. As good off the bike as on the bike. Be an endurance sport hero without looking like a chopper all the time”


Tenspeed Hero Socks

Tenspeed Hero Socks suggested by Mel Wasley

“Hang on hear me out. Socks are definitely a bad idea unless they are Tenspeed Hero socks in which case the more the merrier. RULE #28 states: “Socks can be any damn colour you like” and TSH socks come in every damn colour and pattern you could possibly want for a sporty loved one. Hoping some will find their way under my tree this year.”


Neil Stevens Print

Neil Stevens Print suggested by Troy Squires

“Neil’s poster illustrations cover a variety of subjects – football, cities, music, and shipping forecasts to mention a few, but it’s his cycling prints that resonate with my inner design geek. I’d love to have a few of these grace my walls. I’ve had the joy of working with Neil in a professional capacity for work projects and his work is top class.”


tri pwr tight-black-product overview thumb - 310x450

Fusion Tri PWR Tight suggested by Paul Smernicki

“Quite simply the best running and tri short available. The gel pocket on each leg is perfect iPhone size and these are totally bombproof. I now do almost all my running in these – comfy as f*@k”.



AeroPress Coffee Maker suggested by Alan Grove

“An Aeropress is now on my list. Why? Because people I know who are obsessed by coffee swear by it.”



Mahabi Slippers suggested by Jane Hansom

“Perfect after a hard day in bike shoes.”


Charlotte Cooper’s Spotify Playlist Takeover

Charlotte Cooper

In the scheme of things, very few people have raced an iron distance event. Fewer still have performed at a major international music festival like Glastonbury.

I’d be pretty sure that Charlotte Cooper is a community of one who have done both.

She’s been the beating heart of her band The Subways, touring all across the world at some of the most incredible venues and auspicious company for 10 years. More recently she been bitten by the ironman bug and it turns out she’s not to shabby at that either.

“I’m still pretty new to ironman world, but I’m hooked! I did Challenge Roth in 2013, Outlaw in 2014 (won my age group hurray – I don’t like to show off, but I’ve never won anything before so I’m pretty proud of that!) and I’ll be doing Challenge Weymouth next year.”

And so it seemed more than perfect to ask Charlotte to take over our Spotify playlist – the top 10 tracks are hers, and here’s what they mean to her.

Fleetwood Mac – Don’t Stop

I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac while we have been recording our 4th album and they’ve become one of my favourite bands. It seemed quite poignant that at a point where I was really struggling in The Outlaw this year, I ran past a boat that was blasting out this song. Every time I ran past a different Fleetwood Mac song was playing!

Paramore – Misery Business

This is my favourite treadmill song. It’s perfect for a tough threshold session, inside or outside. I can’t help but run/dance during the solo!

Kylie Minogue – Into The Blue

I’m a huge Kylie fan and she’s been my favourite artist since I was old enough to know what music was. This song from the new album was the soundtrack to my Outlaw training this year.

Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

I do love songs on my training playlist that relate to swim, bike, run – could there be a more perfect hill rep song?!

Garbage – Run Baby Run

Shirley Manson has always been a hero of mine and Garbage one of my favourite bands. I love to train to this running related tune!

Muse – Plug In Baby

My favourite band as a teenager – I had posters all over my walls! Origin of Symmetry was always my favourite album, so one of those tracks usually features on my playlist.

Chvrches – We Sink

My favourite new band! I’ve been obsessed with this album this year!

Bleech – Here I Am

These guys supported us on our recent UK tour. I set myself a challenge to cycle 1000 miles over the month long tour and I was always singing Bleech songs while I was out on the road!

Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench

Quite simply an awesome tune! I like songs that make me smile and want to dance when I’m training!

Supergrass – Caught By The Fuzz

I grew up in the Brit Pop era, so bands like Supergrass will always have a huge influence on me. As a bass player too, I love Mick Quinn!

Follow Charlotte on Twitter.

The Subways.

The Subways new album.