Racing, Triathlon, Whistler

This girl’s take on Ironman Canada’s swim and run

I’ve put my opinion on the Ironman Canada bike course out there for all the world to see, so I’ll just continue doling out the unsolicited advice on the swim and run courses.

The Swim

Alta Lake is the biggest swimmable lake in Whistler.  You’re welcome to take a crack at Green Lake: let me know how that goes, if you survive.  Currently, Alta’s being measured at about 15C (59F) but it warms up to a less ice-cream headache-inducing temperature once we get a few weeks of sustained sunshine.  I’m a total warm water lover and do just fine in a sleeveless wetsuit in August.

rainbow park 2There’s no danger of this being non-wetsuit swim, for all you nervous nellies out there.  This is a two-looper.  Is it going to be tight?  You bet.  Can you do anything about it?  Nope.  Sharpen your elbows and practice your splashy, open-water sighting skills.  You’re going to need it.

That being said, this lake is pretty beautiful to swim in.  There aren’t many weeds (*shudder*) and when the sun pokes up over the mountains, it’s both blinding and pretty!  You may want to choose your goggles accordingly.

(Sidebar: I am a crappy swimmer and I don’t care who knows it.  Sure, on the pool deck I look the part with my pretty suit and fast-looking goggles, but my cover gets blown the minute I hit the water.  The best tip I ever got about OWS is “just keep moving forward”.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, when you’re in the middle of a full-blown panic attack, it’s not so simple.  Float on your back, breast-stroke, doggy paddle…just do what you gotta do – but don’t ever turn around.  Every watch a salmon swimming upstream?  That’s when the grizzlies get them.)


If you’re coming to train prior to the race, by all means swim in Alta Lake, but do it with eyes wide-open.  We tri people share the lake in early mornings with those speedy backwards-going sculls and there have been a few near misses (and one collision that I know of).  Bright caps and lots of spotting recommended.  Better yet, join the Whistler Tri Club on Saturday mornings at 7:45am and make it a sea of bobbing caps (or at least, 8-9 bobbing caps).

Can you guess which triathlete this is on her wedding day last December? Rainbow park in the snow…

Come mid-July, our lakes tend to get swimmer’s itch.  Grease yourselves up, people.  It helps. 







The run

Ah, the run.  You’re just a mere 42km (26.2 mi) from the sweet, sweet finish line.  If you’re like me, you’ll be happy to hand off your bike to anyone who’ll take it and get away from it.

I think the run on this course is going to be fantastic for several reasons:

  1. Shade: There are shady parts around Lost Lake and along the valley trail and those will feel like teeny tiny oasis’ when you’re out there.  Plus,  most of the shade will be around Lost Lake which is on pea gravel.  No trail shoes required, but it’s going to be a nice break from pavement.
  2. The nudie dock at Lost Lake!  You’re welcome to detour, if that’s your thing.
  3. Real Estate gawking along the Valley Trail by Nick North.
  4. The inevitable tourist you’ll encounter who will have booked his/her holiday without knowing what the hell is going on and will stand there is wonder/disbelief as you cruise by and high-five him/her.
  5. The fact that you get to run through Whistler twice – think of the adulation!
Valley Trail by Nick North; humongous homes to your left.
Valley Trail by Nick North; humongous homes to your left.

Is this run going to be tough?  Probably.  It’s what I’d call “rolling”.  There aren’t any heartbreaking types of hill but – similar to the bike – there are very few spots where you can just zone out and be flat for a while.  The section before the turn around at Green Lake might offer this, but this will also be an exposed section in the sun (hopefully) and (potentially) the wind.  This section is also where real estate will be at a premium: it’s a narrow trail and there will be a lot of traffic.




But just think… as you make that last turn around, you’re on the home stretch.  All that hard work and dedication will have paid off and soon enough the sound of the announcer will be calling you home.  I’ll be there, cheering you on whether you finish in 9 hours or 16:58.

And if you’re coming in with seconds to spare, you can bet I’ll be cheering the loudest for you.

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