— By Marcia Jansen
If you’re a triathlete in Alberta, you’re lucky — there’s an abundance of great training regions and facilities in your province for winter and summer indoor and outdoor training. Here’s a round-up of every top place a triathlete in Alberta should check out for their training this year. Pro tip: Edmonton’s own Paula Findlay displays some of her province’s top outdoor training paradises on her Instagram account. Check it out, above.
When you think of Edmonton, hockey is probably the first sport that pops into your mind. But the capital of Alberta – which hosts an ITU Triathlon Series-race in William Hawrelak Park every year – is a perfect destination for swimming, biking and running. You can bike a hundred kilometers within the city limits on the paved multi-use River Valley trails. The parkland that runs through the middle of Edmonton – 22 times larger than Central Park and following the North Saskatchewan River – is a perfect location for (trail) running as well. For an open water swim, you go to Allan Beach or to the Kinsmen Pool, where 25 and 50-meter lanes are available. Just starting with triathlon? The pool also offers Learn to Tri courses for adults and youth.
The weather can be a challenge in Calgary, but the Repsol Sport Centre – home base of the 3433 Triathlon Club – provides a year-round training environment for all three triathlon disciplines. You can use the 50-meter pool, run during the colder months on the 200-meter indoor track and treadmills, and train on your own bike using the smart trainers in the 3444 Sport Performance Centre. Triathlete Ellen Pennock grew up in Calgary and went for her outdoor swims to Lake Chapparal, on the southeast brim of the city. Her favourite cycling route lead her to Priddis, a hamlet at an elevation of 1160 metres in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. For running she chooses to go to the Glenmore Reservoir – where you can run a beautiful 13-kilometer loop around the reservoir, or to Nosehill Park, one of the largest urban parks in Canada where you will find numerous trails.
Canmore is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The Canmore Nordic Centre – build for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games – provides world-class trails for use by cross-country skiers in winter and mountain bikers and trail runners in summer. The park hosts an annual winter triathlon (run-bike–XC ski) in February and the Xterra off-road triathlon in September. The swim leg of the Xterra race takes place in the pristine, crystal clear waters of Quarry Lake, the mountain bike and trail run on the Nordic Centre loops. Bear encounters are not rare, so all participants in the race must bring bear spray for their own safety.
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Forget about swimming and running for a few days, you go to Jasper and Banff for spectacular road riding. Prepare for your Ironman with a bike ride from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, stretching an impressive 300 kilometers. Along the route, two mountain passes – Sunwapta and Bow – take you up to elevations in excess of 2,100 meters for breathtaking views of the Columbia Icefield, the largest conglomeration of glaciers in the Canadian Rockies. Die-hards can bike the route in one day or you can book a multiple day, fully supported bike tour at one of the biking tour companies in the area.