Athletes ready for Ironman Canada 

Seven Whistler athletes will be on the start line for this year’s race

Like many of the world’s biggest athletic challenges, the Ironman triathlon began over a few beers with a dare.

One evening during an award party for a running event, a Navy man by the name of John Collins got into a debate with other athletes during the after about who was in better shape, runners, swimmers or cyclists. To put his theories to the test, he proposed a race that would link the Waikiki Rough Water Swim to a bike ride around the island, and the Honolulu Marathon Course.

He seized the microphone from the announcer, and presented his challenge to the crowd – whoever finished the course first would earn the title of Ironman.

On Feb. 18, 1978 a group of 15 competitors turned out to take the challenge. Eleven of them finished the race, including Collins.

Having only lost $25 organizing the first challenge, Collins decided to host another race the following year. Although only 15 competitors turned out that year, the event attracted the attention of Sports Illustrated and ABC Sports.

Today, Ironman is widely regarded as one of the toughest races on the planet – the toughest to compete in and the toughest to get into, with events around the world frequently selling out.

Ironman Canada, which takes place this Sunday (Aug. 29) in Penticton, is one of those events. In addition, because the event is only one of a few qualifiers for the Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, athletes come to the event from all over North America and Europe. Less than a day after one Ironman ends, you can often find the competitors back in line to register for next year’s race.

This year seven Whistler athletes will take part in the event, swimming 3.86 kilometres (2.4 miles), cycling 180.2 km (112 miles) and running a full marathon of 42.2 km (26.2 miles). Some are competing to finish, while others are hoping to better their previous results. One local competitor is hoping to qualify for the world championships in Hawaii.

Christine Cogger is one of Whistler’s first-time Ironman competitors. In fact, this is her first ever triathlon.

"I was always planning on doing an Ironman, and this year things just worked out for me – I had the spare time, and a flexible schedule, so I jumped into it," said Cogger, who is competing in the 25-29 age group.

"That’s only part of the reason. I saw the event on television last year, and I said I’m going to do it, so I’m doing it."

Cogger has been in training since last November, working out with the Masters Swim Club and local trainer Val Burke. Still, she has spent most of the time working out on her own.

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