This past weekend, I had the opportunity to race in Whistler, BC, at the IRONMAN and 70.3 Canada event. I competed in the 70.3 and had a great time doing it.
I arrived the Tuesday before the race in Vancouver, BC, giving myself a few days to catch up with friends, work and enjoy the surrounding area. The race in Whistler can for some be a looming stress, especially one in a new area. If you’re able to, try to take some time to explore and relax. On Friday, I jumped on an Epic Rides bus with my bike and headed up to Whistler.
Stanley Park Seawall. Photo Cam Mitchell
View of Lions Gate Bridge. Photo Cam Mitchell
Deep Cove. Photo Cam Mitchell
Kitslano Beach. Photo Cam Mitchell
The drive up to Whistler is pretty much all on the Sea to Sky Highway. On the way up you get to cross the Lions Gate Bridge, pass by Horseshoe and Lions Bay, look into Howe Sound and get views of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Once I arrived in Whistler Village, I went to straight to the Olympic Athletes Village Plaza to check in.
Olympic Athletes Village Plaza in Whistler, BC. Photo Cam Mitchell
IRONMAN Athletes Village by the Olympic rings. Photo Cam Mitchell
For the race weekend, I stayed with family friends 5K outside of Whistler. The location gave me a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the village. One hassle of the location was it made getting to the start a bit tricky.
Friday evening I did a spin around Alta Lake, plus an easy 5K brick along the Valley Trail. Saturday, it was an easy swim at Rainbow Beach, bike and gear check-in and the athletes meeting. In between the main objectives of the day, I sat, napped and stayed out of the sun as much as I could. I was off to bed following the CBC livestream of the mixed relay race in Edmonton and up before the crack of dawn at 3:50 AM. In the hour between I woke up and left in a taxi, I ate two packages of brown sugar and maple syrup Quaker Oats Oatmeal with a banana and some orange juice.
For me the moments leading up to the start are awesome. I really enjoy the feeling before a race, the anticipation and joy of getting ready to push my body to its limit in three different sports. As I was getting ready, I was in awe of the scenery around Alta Lake.
Watching the start of the Ironman was pretty cool. The energy around the place felt like electricity striking through my body, it actually inspired the thought of, “Hey, I want to do that someday.”
I did an easy warm-up in the 2XU Pro Propel wetsuit and lined up for the start. It was a self-seeded rolling start, which was pretty cool and I felt it went pretty smoothly.
The bike was stunning. The views were absolutely amazing. Riding all the up and back down Callaghan Valley Road had to be the highlight for me, as well as the short climb to the turnaround point on Alta Lake Road. The shear number of triathletes on course though was a bit nerve-racking. I was always passing somebody, and triathletes were at times lined across the road. Really the athletes can’t be blamed, there just wasn’t enough space for all 3,000 plus participants. On the bike, I kept up with my nutrition to make sure I was topped up for the run.
Like the bike, the run was something else. Running on the gravel out to Lost Lake and then along the Valley Trail to Green Lake was great. The course provided lots of shade and the regular aid stations keep me going with water, ice, Pepsi and chips. At the end of the day, I was ecstatic. I ran a great race and executed my race plan to near perfection (nothing is perfect).
Post race consisted of lots of eating, napping and some ice cream from the famous Cows Ice Cream shop. I then was able to get a ride back to Vancouver from a friend. Here I spent a few more days hiking, biking and hanging out with friends before packing up heading back to Toronto.
The IRONMAN 70.3 experience in Whistler was amazing; the volunteers, organizers and sponsors did a great job. For me the trip was fairly inexpensively in terms of Ironman weekends, this was thanks to lots of research on flights, borrowing a bike bag, staying with friends and using public transit.