Ironman Canada scores in survey 

Local race voted as top 10 in numerous categories

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Water wins Athletes attending local Ironman events rate the swim in Alta Lake highly compared to others on the circuit.
  • File photo by Dan Falloon
  • Water wins Athletes attending local Ironman events rate the swim in Alta Lake highly compared to others on the circuit.

Subaru Ironman Canada is keeping its competitors satisfied.

In athletes' survey results released last week, both the full- and half-distance Ironman races scored favourably, with both placing in the top 10 in numerous categories.

Among 40 events, the full-distance race here in Whistler ranked third in overall satisfaction, fourth for best overall bike, sixth for best overall swim and eighth for best overall run. The event also ranked 10th for best host city experience.

As for the half-distance Ironman 70.3, among 96 races, Whistler's race was voted first for best overall swim, second for best overall bike, seventh for best overall run, ninth for best host venue experience and third for best host city experience.

The results, which had never before been released publicly, were based on roughly 55,000 replies from athletes competing at Ironman's races in 2016.

"For us, Ironman Canada has been one of the hallmarks on our calendar for many, many years. To me personally, it was no surprise that it did so well. I knew that we put on a great race and the athletes liked it," Ironman's senior regional director Keats McGonigal said. "It's a great accomplishment to be the third-ranked event globally for the event there in Whistler."

In one of the bonus categories, the local dining scene shone among the athletes.

"It probably shouldn't have, but having Whistler voted as having the best restaurants on the circuit wasn't something that was necessarily on my radar but obviously, the athletes liked it," he said. "Once I thought about it, it made a lot of sense because obviously, there are great places to eat there."

The 2017 races, which will both take place on July 30, are the last scheduled under the five-year agreement between the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) and the Whistler Organizing Committee, comprised of the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Tourism Whistler. McGonigal said from the WTC side of the table, there is hope to keep the race right where it is.

"It's certainly our hope to continue to be in Whistler," he said. "We're in discussions with the RMOW and Tourism Whistler on trying to extend the contract."

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said negotiations are underway though the parameters are still being considered.

"Talks have started between our staff and the Ironman people. There is an interest on the part of Ironman in staying although there is some discussion it may look a little different," she said.

Though athletes enjoy the race here, some locals have expressed concern about hosting the event because of closing Highway 99 for much of the day and effects on local wildlife. A bear cub died after its mother was tranquilized and suffocated it during the 2016 event, while a sow and three cubs were tranquilized and relocated during the 2015 race after the sow bluff-charged a racer.

"There are some operational issues we want to look at a little more carefully. There are some bear-management issues that we've run into the past couple of years," Wilhelm-Morden said. "The course route, and what that means to citizens and businesses, we'll be looking at that as well."

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