With one of Canada’s premiere triathlons all set to go this Sunday in Mont Tremblant, QC, we preview the course and include some last-minute tips from experienced pros that are racing Ironman Mont Tremblant.
The 3.8K swim features a single clockwise loop from the Beach and Tennis Club to Parc Plage in Lac Tremblant. Sighting should be reasonably easy as the buoys are in one long line and the mountains surrounding the lake should offer the opportunity to pick a spot in the distance to sight on for nearly half the swim.
The second half of the swim mirrors the first, with two sharp turns and then over 1.5km straight back into the swim exit, just around the lake from the start. There is then a short run to T1.
Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches is a Triathlon Magazine Canada contributor and was fourth in the race last year. His top swim tip is:
“The race has a beach start in a calm and usually wetsuit-legal lake (usually 65F/18C). Before the race, I suggest taking an easy swim in the lake and practice a few starts and exits (you don’t exit exactly at the same place that you started) in order to know after how many steps in the water you need until you can start swimming and when you should start running when you exit the water.
The bike course is two loops and offers some short, challenging climbs and thrilling descents. The road surface is generally excellent, meaning a comfortable and fast ride. Each loop can be broken down into four sections. First up is an up and down ride to the highway. Most of the hills are short but not too punchy, and there will be a lot of benefit in saving the legs for later in the ride.
Then there is an out-and-back section with plenty of rollers and false flats. Learning to take the ascents with steady power and then attacking the crest and initial part of the descent is a strategy that should gain riders a lot of time over the course of the race. The out-and-back is followed by a tough climb in returning to the village before a final very hilly section and fast descent to the midpoint of the bike leg. This is then repeated, and the final downhill for the last 7 km into T2 gives a great opportunity to spin out the legs before the run.
The bike leg is tough, with 1800m of total elevation gain and a maximum grade of 8 per cent. But for the smart cyclist, it offers a fair test and a good chance to head out on to the run in good shape.
Lionel Sanders, who has raced both the 70.3 and full-distance race at Mont Tremblant numerous times during his career, offers this tip on the bike:
“The best piece of advice I could give is to not do anything on race day that you haven’t already been doing in practice. The beginning stages of the ride are quite hilly, and it is easier to push big power up a hill. Of course, you can allow for a little more power going up those hills, but not anything significantly larger than you have trained to do. If you still feel really good on the final climb, then you can take the leash off a bit more, but I would still err on the side of caution… your run legs will thank you. I don’t know if I have ever heard of someone biking too easy, especially not on a hilly course like Mont Tremblant. On the other hand, countless performances have been ruined due to over-biking.”
The run is a challenging two-loop course. Leaving T2, runners immediately head into a tough stretch. This includes a very steep climb for a few hundred metres, and unless you are feeling fantastic, power-walking this part may make your race later in the day, even if it feels counterintuitive at the time. This is immediately followed by a section of rollers, with a fairly steep descent at one point. It is important to maintain form and keep a decent cadence through this, as there is a long way to go and forcing it at this stage will make it hard to settle into a rhythm off the bike.
The course then heads out on to the Le P’tit Train du Nord, a former rail bed that only has minor elevation changes for about 7km. This provides some relief from the hills, but they return soon enough, with a few more rollers heading back to transition and the start of the second lap. Then comes that challenging section again and a repeat of lap one before you can call yourself a finisher at Ironman Mont-Tremblant!
Last year’s male race champion Cody Beals’ final advice offering is:
“Be prepared for a range of conditions. Over the past few years, the weather in Mont Tremblant on race day has ranged from cool and rainy to hot and sunny. Regardless of the weather forecast, bring gear for all conditions and adjust your pacing and fuelling plans accordingly.”