The new face of Ironman in Mont-Tremblant, Que. approaches triathlon as a team sport.
“No one gets to the finish line on their own,” shares Pauline Alix. “Community, volunteers and athletes—race day is a team effort.”
As the first young mother to serve as an Ironman race director leading a three-series event in Canada, Alix knows that surrounding yourself with a supportive team is critical in triathlon, regardless what side of the finish line you are on.
In her rookie year as the race director, Alix is taking on what is expected to be the race’s largest field ever. The 5i50 and Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant in June will host upward of 4,500 athletes, while Ironman Mont-Tremblant in August looks like it will be a sold-out event as well.
She is looking forward to the challenge. “Strong does not mean you have to do something by yourself,” relates Alix. “Strong is acknowledging that we are stronger together.”
Surrounding herself with strong women—and men who believe that women can succeed—has been a driving force for Alix.
Family comes first
Alix worked as a nanny in Australia for triathlete Sascha Kurz, who is a keen supporter of Alix’s new undertaking and understands the delicate balance needed to walk the fine line between competitive racing, a career, being a good partner and a parent.
“Even as a very young adult, Pauline embraced a balanced path of equal measures of experience, learning and fun,” says Kurz. “Popo has always run her own race, with great integrity.”
Alix does not measure success by the size of her paycheque. Instead, she measures it by the quality of her life. Finding a balance between pursuing a passion for event management and being the best partner and mother she can be is important to her.
“Women should not have to choose between a career and being a good partner and mother,” she says.
Dave Christen, the senior regional director for Ironman Group concurs.
“We work very hard at Ironman, and within the triathlon industry, to create a culture that fiercely protects our colleagues and supports their family and personal endeavours,” Christen says.
It is this unequivocal support for family that drew Alix to the race director role at Ironman. She was not asked to choose between her family and her career. Ironman made it clear: family always comes first.
“Anything is possible,” has long been the manta of Ironman. Alix believes that anything is possible, when you believe in yourself and surround yourself with a strong and positive support group.
The journey to leadership
Although Alix is unique as a young mother with a toddler in tow leading the crown jewel of Canada’s Ironman race series, her path to becoming a race director has been similar to others.
Ben Rausa, the race director for Ironman Florida and Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast, met Alix when Ironman first came to Mont-Tremblant in 2012. While Alix was just a fledging volunteer, Rausa has watched her grow into her own, working for a decade in every aspect of triathlon. As Alix honed her management skills, Rausa saw her mature into a strong leader and take her place at the table among other strong and passionate leaders on the Ironman team.
“She learned the event from the ground up, just as we all did,” says Rausa.
Christen echoes the same sentiment.
“Every person in a leadership role at Ironman followed a similar path that Pauline traveled,” says Christen. “We learned by doing. Pauline is a rising star in Ironman and we are delighted to have her at the helm of the Mont-Tremblant race series.”
Just as important as knowing every phase of managing an event the size and caliber of an Ironman series, a calm demeanor, the ability to handle stress and deal with every type of personality is key to serving in a triathlon leadership role.
“Pauline knows what she brings to the table,” says Lily Nucera Rausa, the former race director for Ironman 70.3 Maine. “She speaks with purpose and intention.”
Alix credits her strong sense of self from a lifetime of strong female mentors, from her mother to her sisters, to her Ironman family, along with a community in Mont-Tremblant that embraces female leadership and inclusivity.
As Ironman celebrates a 10-year run in Mont-Tremblant this year, Alix has embraced her leadership role and intends to imprint her fingerprints on the race experience in her hometown.
Just as an athlete takes a good year to prepare for an “A” race, Alix has been preparing to run her race series her way. That includes making the event more experience oriented, sharing the stories of amazing participants and putting the human side of triathlon front and centre.
Max Lambert is very proud of his partner and the mother of his adorable young daughter. He supports her tremendous work ethic, admires her passion for event management and respects that she also makes work-life balance a priority.
“I watched Pauline race to the finish line at Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid in 2017, and I see that same fierce determination as she works toward a different kind of finish line this year as the race director for the Ironman Mont-Tremblant series,” Lambert says.
The event series is set against the backdrop of a beautiful four-season resort in the heart of the Laurentian Mountains, and the region knows how to surpass the expected. Managing an event series that is a consistent athlete favourite, Alix also knows how to exceed expectations. Building on a solid foundation and supported by a tremendous team that is forging a new path for Ironman Mont-Tremblant, Alix is keeping her eye on that finish line, while always making time for hugs and cuddles with her baby daughter, Charlotte.
Professional triathlete Chelsea Sodaro showed us last year that young mothers can take the top podium spot at the Ironman World Championship. Pauline Alix is showing us that young mothers can win on the other side of the finish line as well.
This story originally appeared in the Buyer’s Guide 2023 issue of Triathlon Magazine
Cathy Bergman has worked on both sides of the finish line as a six-time Ironman 70.3 finisher and a devoted volunteer when she is not racing.