So, you’re doing Ironman Canada. Good for you.
You’ve lovingly convinced/dragged/coerced your loved ones/family/friends/crew to join you for the fun.
As a good, caring and unselfish triathlete, you aren’t going to force these fine folks to sit around in your condo or hotel room and watch you lie about with your legs up the wall while you sip your endurance beverage of choice out of carefully labeled water bottles, are you?
No, you are not.
This is a world-class resort with a lot of things to do and explore. Let’s be good people and send them out the door with a list of things to do while you rest up in those recovery boots, shall we?
I’ll be the first to admit that I love spectating at Ironman. Sure, there are some boring bits, but those are squished between frantic moments of running around the course, cheering, admiring, eating, crying, coaxing, taking pictures and plotting an eventual comeback. My favourite thing to see, however, is kids cheering on mom and dad. They make cute posters, wear dorky matching shirts, scream at the top of their little high-pitched lungs. One day, I’ll be that mom with her kids screaming at her to move her ass. But then, they fall asleep. Everywhere. In strollers. On a patch of grass. In a restaurant chair. It’s awesome but also makes me feel bad for them: don’t they want to be doing something else?
It’s going to be August which means it’s going to be hot (probably) which means – LAKES. Hit the lakes! There are at least 3 fun beach parks that will keep those little people in your life occupied for quite some time: Rainbow Park (the start of the swim course, so perhaps not the best choice closer to race day), Lost Lake park (rent a bike and pedal your way out there, it’s the way to go), Alpha Lake Park (again, use the Valley Trail to bike out there).
Speaking of bikes, put those little suckers into bike camp. DFX camps are awesome and they’ve turned my kids into confident little terrors on 2 wheels. Arrange (ahead of time!) a bike rental for getting around town. There are tons of places to rent and most rent Chariot trailers, too: perfect for hauling picnics, gear and tired little people.
The Municipality here offers a lot of day camp options if your offspring aren’t keen on bikes. Smear on the sunscreen and kiss them goodbye. They are in good hands.
If you want a night out (which, yeah. I know. Not before race day! But maybe you’re like me and don’t think that having that 1 beer will ruin your race so you’ll go for it), call the fine folks at Babysitting Whistler. They’re priced like that because they are good.
There are so many activities that you can do with your kids, too. The Adventure Zone, Zip-Trek, Rafting, Bungee Jumping (if you’re that kind of parent), Yoga, Swimming, Bounce (if it’s raining which it won’t be), the PEAK 2 PEAK, and tons of playgrounds.
The bottom line is this: if your kids claim that they are bored while they are here, someone’s doing something wrong.
(Editor’s note: Worst moniker EVER. If I called my husband my “ironmate”, he’d divorce me on the spot).
Moving on. I could go the usual route and write something like “treat your lady to a day at the spa bla bla bla” but WAIT. Not all who do Ironman are MEN. This is an equal opportunity blog. Ha.
So yeah, there are spas, of course. The Scandinave happens to be spectacular. But adult-folk can do lots of the same things I suggested for the kids. The mountain biking in this place is amazing. If you are keen to learn the bike park, go for it. Listen, I get that it looks insane and totally intimidating and super scary but there really is something for everyone (and if my 4 year old rode it last year, then so can you).
Golf. I hear there’s good golfing around here. I personally run out of steam at 7 holes, but if that’s your thing there are at least 6 courses for you to get frustrated at between Squamish and Pemberton.
If you’re a runner, let me be the first to encourage you to bring your trail gear and explore our valley. The trail running here is second to none and you can thank me later for telling you to go. In fact, why don’t you race, too? The 5 Peaks is the day before Ironman and a perfect excuse to get up the mountain.
If your person wants to cheer you on, well that’s just awesome. The swim start is at Rainbow park and, unless your fan club has a bike, I’d advise against going out to the start. Rather, have them stay in the village, enjoy a coffee and watch you and 2,499 or so of your friends fight for open water on the big screen in Whistler Olympic Plaza. That way, they can enjoy some village time while you pedal your heart out up and down our hills for the next 180 km.
(Editor’s note: Oh yes, you know I’ll be writing my own personal review of the bike and run courses. Maybe the swim and the transitions too, if I’m feeling particularly detail-oriented. Wait! Maybe I’ll GoPro the whole thing! Actually, no I won’t.)
The bike will be tough to spectate – but let’s be honest, isn’t it always? Apart from coming into and out of the transitions, your personal cheer squad is going to have to find a way to get themselves out of the village without getting stuck in traffic and/or impeding the race. Unless they can pedal their way out there? I’d stick to cheering the run course. Which is going to be awesome! With shade! Pull up a lawn chair, crack a cold (non-alcoholic, of course) one and yell till midnight, at which point you can come and join me for some teary-eyed cheering at the finish.
Before and After
If you can, come to Whistler a week before to experience my favourite event of the summer: The Slow Food Cycle. It’s a week out from race day – surely the 35-ish kilometers you’ll have to pedal aren’t going to hinder your race prep, are they?
Load up the bikes, the kids, the trailer, bring some water and sunscreen, leave the lycra at home (I beg of you), slow down and enjoy being part of something that will surely be the highlight of your visit. Trust me on this one.
If you’re sticking around after Ironman, or visiting before, get out of Whistler and explore a bit! Pemberton has some great trails, a perfect lake (or 2) to chill at, Mile One, Blackbird Bakery, and so on and so on (I’ve bragged abotu these places before… I’d send you to Squamish but all I really know about Squamish is where to ride and I’m sure you can figure that out on your own.
There’s so much more I could share, but really it’s up to you to make the most of your time here. Get out here and do it!
And for the love of god, start waving to each other on the bike. It’s just rude not to.