Whistler gearing up for Ironman 

Organizers are expecting race to sell out quickly, despite conflict with another race

click to enlarge 180 spinWhistler edged out two other bids to host Ironman Canada in 2013. Details and registration followed the Oct. 11 announcement.
  • 180 spinWhistler edged out two other bids to host Ironman Canada in 2013. Details and registration followed the Oct. 11 announcement.

When it came time to decide which of the bid cities would win the right to host Ironman Canada in 2013, and for the four years after, Whistler had a few major assets that organizers could not ignore.

"The biggest thing that stands out from my perspective, and I'm essentially responsible for the operation of the event, is the ability of the partners and the host community to be able to partner with us to get the event off the ground and running in a short period," said Keats McGonigal, race director for the 2013 Ironman.

He was in Whistler on Tuesday to begin working out the considerable logistics for hosting the event, which left Penticton after 30 years following the event in August. He said Whistler and its partners in the resort stood out — notably bid organizer Tourism Whistler — for their ability to get events off the ground.

"I'm certainly looking for a municipality that works well together internally already as far as communications between different departments goes, and based on my interactions here I could see that Whistler had that going for it," said McGonigal.

"The second thing we looked at was the spectacular nature of the course. We're going to be able to send our athletes through some amazing terrain in the mountains, and showcase the Valley Trail system on the run course. There were other factors, but those are two highlights that made Whistler stand out."

The race will take place on Aug. 25, 2013, and includes a 3.8km swim course on Alta Lake, a 180km bike leg — from Rainbow Park to Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan, and an out and back to the end of the Pemberton Meadows — and two laps of a run course out to Emerald Estates totaling 42.2km.

While the event takes place the same day as Challenge Penticton, the long distance triathlon race that replaced Ironman Canada, McGonigal is confident they will sell out rather than split the ultra community in two.

"We started selling registrations about four hours ago and things are going very well," he said, referring the pre-registration offered to past racers and people who attended the last Ironman race to sign up for next year. Public registration doesn't get underway until today, Thursday, Oct. 18.

"We will certainly see a sell-out of this event. I would anticipate that event registration will be full by the end of this weekend.

"I don't know the exact number of spots, but between 2,000 and 2,500 athletes end up starting the event every year."

Tourism Whistler confirmed that the race might move to July for 2014 through 2017 to avoid conflicts.

Whistler was shortlisted to host the event along with the City of Kelowna and the Muskoka region in Ontario at the start of October, and was confirmed as the host city on Oct. 11 before the start of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

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