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Tips for a great race at this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Luke Yates and Rachel McBride share tips for the course at Ironman 70.3 Calgary, which features a new course this year.

Pro men Andy Potts and Ben Hoffman neck in neck at the finish line at last year's Ironman 70.3 Calgary

— By Luke Yates

Ironman 70.3 Calgary is a Canadian favourite but draws athletes from all over to its stunning location right on the edge of the Rockies in Western Alberta. It has been rated as one of the most scenic courses in the world and this year’s event has sold out, with thousands of athletes arriving to tackle this challenging but fast event. With the help of 2014 winner and course record holder, Rachel McBride, here are five top tips for a great race this weekend.

Don’t get lost in the lake

The swim is a one-loop course in Auburn Bay Lake in southern Calgary, but it doesn’t follow a standard rectangular route like most races. In 2015, the leading female pro, Magali Tisseyre, was among a number of athletes disqualified for accidentally swimming the wrong course. If possible, get down there and check out the course, and at the very least have a good look at the map and video on the event website.

The low morning sun could also add to the issue.

“If it happens to be a cloudless day, sighting will also be a challenge with the sunrise! Grab some mirrored goggles for the best view.” says McBride.

You’ll go down before you go up

The bike course an 86.1-km mostly out-and-back route.

The bike course elevation profile shows a gradual downhill for the first half, with a few sharp hills, but the second half is almost all uphill.

The course also reaches nearly 1400 m in altitude. This isn’t crazy, but if you are used to training at sea-level, it’s definitely worth bearing this in mind before you really hammer the last 45 km on the bike.

The run course is beautiful

The run is an out-and-back course through gorgeous forests and along the Elbow River. Make sure to use the the scenery as inspiration when the going gets tough, and enjoy the course as best you can. It is generally flat, although there are two steep, little climbs to tackle. The second of these comes in the last quarter of the run.

Make the most of Alberta

Ironman 70.3 Calgary and Western Alberta in general have so much to offer, so really try to enjoy your visit. The pro start list is packed with strong athletes so spectators should be sure to watch out for some amazing performances as they wait for their loved ones.

After the race, the mountains are just a short drive away, with Canmore and Banff less than two hours up the road. There are plenty of accommodation options and both provide incredible opportunities to get out into the wild and find some outdoor adventures, or enjoy a little post-race relaxation.