Our friends at BlueSeventy headed up to Whistler, Canada, last weekend for some hefty training and course recon on the new Ironman Canada course, which will debut Aug. 25. As suspected with four weeks to go, Whistler was packed with athletes hoping to gain some insight on what this new 140.6 course has in store. Here are a few observations and photos straight from Whistler—keep in mind that our source says the pictures don’t even do this gorgeous and epic course justice!
Rainbow Park makes for a stunning swim venue for the two-loop course in the clear waters of Alta Lake. The one downside may be the logistical trickiness—on race morning, Ironman plans to shuttle athletes starting at 5 a.m. from T2 (Whistler Village) to T1 (Rainbow Park), about a two-mile ride. For the mandatory bike check-in on Saturday, athletes can ride their bikes or take them on the shuttle, then shuttle back to Whistler Village.
Judging by various Twitter recounts of athletes who rode the course this weekend, it appears that the elevation gain is closer to 6,000 feet, versus the 4213 feet listed on the Ironman site. Our source says the course is challenging but beautiful, highlighted by an early climb up to Callaghan Valley (the site of Nordic skiing events during the 2010 Olympics) and the one-loop course is sprinkled with creeks and lakes alongside the road. Ride with caution—there are a few sections with pretty rough road conditions.
If you paced yourself well and it’s not sweltering outside, the run course—mostly on a paved trail, but partially on crushed gravel, a rarity for an Ironman marathon—could be fast, fun and not too challenging (the website says just around 700 feet of elevation gain).
If you’re racing this year, you likely have your accommodations set for race weekend, but for future training weekends on a budget, consider the convenient and simple Whistler Athletes’ Center. It’s around $40 a night for basic dorm-style rooms with kitchens, conveniently located right off the bike course and around 8K from T2 in Whistler Village and 10K from the swim start.
Carbo-load with baked goods or handmade breads at Purebread. Their list of unique breads include everything from buckwheat sour cherry pecan to whistler brewery dis-function ale to asiago black pepper. Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry at Lift Coffee Co (4293 Mountain Sq, 604-905-6621). And while you’re out on the bike course, send your spectating family to find the best local goods at the Whistler farmer’s market, open Sundays from 11–4 p.m.
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