In 2019, Canada will host a total of seven Ironman-branded events – five 70.3 races and two full distance triathlons. Below we rank the bike courses from “hardest to easiest” based on their elevation gain. But don’t be fooled, just because one course may not have as much climbing doesn’t mean it’s easier than another. There are a lot of factors to consider when comparing races, such as a rider’s preferences, road conditions, wind and weather.  

Full-distance events

1. Ironman Canada – End of July

Ironman Canada in Whistler, BC, has the most climbing of all the Ironman races. With 2,405m of climbing in 180K, this event takes the cake as one of the harder bike courses on the entire Ironman circuit.

Related: Ironman races in Canada: Road or tri bike?

The new two-loop course is a tough one. The course takes the athletes from Alta Lake to the top of the Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley (not the case in 2018). Then, the athletes will descend and travel further south, enjoying views of Black Tusk and the surrounding mountain ranges before making their return back to Whistler.

2. Ironman Mont-Tremblant – Middle of August

Just because Ironman Mont-Tremblant has less climbing, does not mean it’s “easier.” What Ironman is easy?

The bike course in Tremblant begins on Montée Ryan before turning onto Route 117. Then It’s back on Montée Ryan and Chemin des Voyageurs, passing the village resorts and going toward Lac-Supérieur on Chemin Duplessis. It’s on this section where you’ll encounter the most challenging climbs with a maximum grade of eight per cent.

Half-distance events

1. Ironman 70.3 Canada – End of July

On the same course as Ironman Canada, but only one loop, 70.3 Canada features over 1,200m of climbing.

The new Ironman 70.3 Canada bike course will bring athletes to the 2010 Winter Olympic ski jumping area (same as last year) and farther down south with views of Black Tusk.

Related: Tips for upgrading your road bike

2. Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant – End of June

Like Ironman Mont-Tremblant, the 70.3 course does the same loop. Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, Muskoka and Victoria all feature courses with 800-900m of climbing.

The bike course in Tremblant begins on Montée Ryan before turning onto Route 117. Then It’s back on Montée Ryan and Chemin des Voyageurs, passing the village resorts and going toward Lac-Supérieur on Chemin Duplessis. It’s on this section where you’ll encounter the most challenging climbs with a maximum grade of eight per cent.

3. Ironman 70.3 Muskoka – Early July

In 2018, 70.3 Muskoka switched courses from a loop around Lake of Bays to an out-and-back course.

With over 900m of climbing, this route will leave a sting in your legs with many punchy climbs. It is a tough start on Brunel Road, so don’t go too deep into your energy reserves. It is in the middle section that you can make up time and build momentum going into the final 15km.

4. Ironman 70.3 Victoria – Early June

This year, 70.3 Victoria switched to a single loop and has its fair share of climbing – over 800m.

Beginning at Hamsterley Beach, athletes ride through four municipalities and get views of Haro Strait, the Coastal Mountains, and Saanich Inlet.

5. Ironman 70.3 Calgary – Early August

The flattest route Ironman 70.3 course in Canada, the race in Calgary is built for speed. But be mindful of the winds.

The bike course travels east of Auburn Bay along Highway 22X. After a little turnaround loop on quiet country roads, athletes return to transition on Highway 22X.

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