Joanna Brown competes at the 2017 WTS Montreal

In its second year as an World Triathlon Series (WTS) event (and third year as part of the global circuit), the ITU World Triathlon Montreal has made some dramatic improvements that are sure to attract an even larger field to one of Canada’s largest cities. Event organizers also managed to negotiate the French language rights for all of the remaining WTS races of 2018, so Canadians will be able to watch the WTS races through the SRC app (the same one used for the recent winter Olympics) and follow the sport’s stars as they compete in the series races before Montreal.

“The race course is really beautiful, going through Old Montreal,” says Montreal’s Alexis Lepage, who represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games last month. “Everyone is really friendly in Quebec, the food is great, it’s a beautiful city. Many of the athletes tell me that Montreal is one of the nicest cities to travel to, so everyone really loves the race.”

It’s not as though the race needs to do much to continue to be a popular stop on the WTS circuit.

“Last year was our first (WTS) event and there was already a buzz with the elite athletes,” says Patrice Brunet, president and CEO of the race. “We had eight of the top 10 ranked men and women participate.”

As excited as the international competitors might be for the race, Canadian athletes like Lepage are looking forward to the race as a chance to compete with the world’s best without having to travel outside the country.

“Montreal will be one of the peaks of the season, I’m quite excited to race there again,” says Lepage. “The race course is awesome and I was born here, so all my family is coming to watch. Last year I was the only Quebecer there and, honestly, the crowd was insane. Everyone was cheering for me, even if I wasn’t in the top 10. Usually WTS races are really far away and now they have a 10-minute drive to get there.”

New races added to schedule

Montreal seems to have truly embraced the race, allowing race organizers to close a number of streets in the heart of the old town that helps make this one of the most unique triathlon events in the world. In addition to the sprint and standard distance races (along with a U13 and U15 super sprint) that have been part of the race’s tradition, this year even more people will be able to take part in the various festivities thanks to a vastly expanded schedule.

Things kick off with a Thursday night pasta dinner with a DJ on hand to ensure there’s lots of energy as athletes prepare for a big weekend of racing. Friday night will see 5 and 10 km running races on the same course that will be used for the triathlon.

“We want to show more Montrealers that anyone can do a triathlon,” says Brunet.

That welcoming approach has also been expanded to some innovative and exciting new relays that have been added to the weekend, too. The BDC Challenge will allow teams of triathletes to either take part in a classic relay format (one swimmer, one biker and one runner) or a new “team” concept where three or more athletes can do the entire triathlon as a group.

“They’ll do the triathlon together,” says Brunet. “They can swim together, ride together in a peloton and then run together. This way you can train together as a group and then race the same way. It is a great way to create a good dynamic within a group or a company.”

Participants in the BDC Challenge will race on Saturday morning and, once they’re finished, will be provided shower facilities and VIP access to enjoy the rest of the morning’s races and the elite women’s race in the afternoon.

Sunday’s schedule now includes a new long-distance race that will be limited to just 100 participants that will include a 2.2 km swim, an 80 km bike followed by a 20 km run.

Put it all together and you have quite a multisport festival, all in one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations.

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