Diverse goals for local Ironman athletes 

Finishing is the goal for some, world championships in Hawaii for others

To put that into perspective, that's the equivalent of swimming 152 lengths of the pool at Meadow Park, then biking all the way to Vancouver and back to Squamish, then dropping your bike and running all the way to Whistler.

Some of the top male athletes will hit the finish line in Penticton in a little more than nine hours, while others will be running after dark and trying to make the 17 hour cutoff at midnight. After midnight the official timer is shut off, although athletes will continue to push themselves to the line for a few hours after that.

It takes years to work up the courage to train for Ironman, and most athletes started training in earnest back in January.

As usual, several Whistler athletes will be in the race this year, ranging from veterans to first timers.

John Blok, a trainer at The Core, will be making his seventh appearance at Ironman Canada, once again chasing the goal of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. He's come close before, but knows he'll need the race of his life to make the cut.

"I thought this year I would have a pretty good chance if I didn't do other races," said Blok. "It's still on my bucket list to get to Hawaii, and I'm going to keep trying until I get there."

Blok, 56, moved up an age category last year to the 55 to 59 group. There are over 100 athletes in that group this year and Blok knows he has to finish in the top-three to be guaranteed a spot in Hawaii - or possibly top-five if any of the top three athletes turn the invite down.

Last year the third spot to Hawaii went to an athlete in Blok's category who finished the race in 10 hours and 53 minutes, while Blok's personal best on the course is an 11:07.

"I would have to have a really good day to finish under 11 hours, but it's not impossible," he said.

Blok headed into Ironman with a different training regimen this time.

"Because my job is really physical and I'm pretty exhausted at the end of the day if I do too much, I left training until late this year so I wouldn't be tired at the start line," he said. "And I'm feeling great... this is the first year where I haven't been in the pool for the whole year, I've only been doing some open water swimming on the lakes here. I don't think I'll lose anything because of that, or gain anything - the swim will be what it always is.


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