July 29, 2018
Building on the legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics, IRONMAN Canada offers athletes a majestic course in a world-class destination. The namesake race was part of the IRONMAN circuit for over 30 years before moving to its current location in 2013, where it has enjoyed a successful three years.
ABOUT THE RACE:
The race begins with a two-loop, 2.4-mile swim in the clean, shallow waters of Alta Lake. The average water temperature in late July is 67 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a perfect and comfortable wetsuit-legal swim.
Athletes transition to their bikes at a lake side transition area before beginning a unique one-loop bike course. The 112-mile course compares to the challenging but spectacular routes at IRONMAN Lake Placid and IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene. The course begins on the Sea-to-Sky Highway before climbing into the Callaghan Valley (the site of the Nordic skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics). After descending back to the highway, athletes pass through the town of Whistler on their way north to Pemberton. A flat out-and-back section opens to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks before returning to Whistler over rolling terrain.
The two-loop run course follows the meandering Valley Trail past Lost Lake and Green Lake, allowing spectators plenty of opportunities to cheer for their athletes. At the halfway point through Whistler Village, competitors will get a boost right where it matters most. The day ends in Whistler's Olympic Plaza, a central and festive location to cross the finish line, secure your medal, and celebrate your accomplishment.
Swim Start/Transition 1
Alta Lake Road
Whistler, BC, VON 0A0
4365 Blackcomb Way
Whistler, BC, VON 1B4
Adjacent to Whistler Olympic Plaza
WHERE TO WATCH RACES FROM:
It’s early! This is a must-see: mist drifting up off the lake, the sun rising over Whistler Mountain, and a mass start that turns the lake water into foam. The first pros are out of the water in just over 50 minutes.
There’s not much room on the docks, so get there early to snag a spot. Some spectators will bring hip waders or just stand in the water in their swimsuits. The best place to be, if you can manage it, is out on the water with a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard. Obey the course marshals though.
Your best, and most convenient option post-swim, is to take the Valley Trail north to Meadow Park and Highway 99. If you hang out for a while, you’ll see some of the slower swim athletes pedaling south, and the faster athletes hammering north to Pemberton — and back. And if you feel like hanging out all day, you’ll even see the runners go by on the Valley Trail across the road a total of four times!
If you’re looking to cheer on specific athletes, or watch the leaders battle it out, follow the Valley Trail back around the golf course to Whistler Village and hit up the second transition spot in Parking Lot 4. The leaders should be coming in just after noon.
Because the course follows an out-and-back route there are a lot of great places to watch inside Lost Lake Park, out at Nicklaus North (the wood bridge section is particularly scenic), or anywhere along the course that heads north from the bridge. If you feel like pedaling, the lookout and turnaround spot on Green Lake is a spectacular place to cheer on runners and also makes for beautiful sunsets.
Regardless of why you come out to watch Subaru IRONMAN® Canada, it’s essential to stick around at the finish to watch the last racers come in before the midnight cut-off. Most of the athletes make a point of coming back to cheer on the people who suffered through the hardest, longest, most painful of days, but didn’t give up. It’s a fun and inspiring vibe, to say the least.
HAVE SOME FUN WHILE HERE:
Image: Mike Crane