Whistler athletes prepare for Ironman Canada 

10 athletes sign up for toughest race

click to enlarge Mass Effect More than 3,000 athletes, including 10 Whistler participants, will take to the water on Sunday at Ironman Canada. Photo by David McColm.
  • Mass Effect More than 3,000 athletes, including 10 Whistler participants, will take to the water on Sunday at Ironman Canada. Photo by David McColm.

On Sunday, Aug. 26 a total of 10 Whistler athletes will be taking part in Ironman Canada, the national Ironman championships and a qualifier for the world championships in October.

It’s a diverse group heading to Penticton this year, a mix of veterans, first timers, and athletes that have raced before but have sat out the last few years.

The course includes a 3.8 km swim on Lake Okanagan, a 180 km bike that loops from Penticton to Osoyoos to Keremos, and back to Penticton, and a 42.2 km out-and-back run course between Penticton and Okanagan Falls. More than 3,000 athletes will enter the lake at 7 a.m., and the run course closes at midnight. Athletes can take anywhere from eight and a half hours to 17 hours to finish the race.

The weather is expected to climb into the low 30s, but the air quality may pose a challenge as wildfires burn over the border in Washington.

One of the newcomers this year is Whistler Mountain Ski Club coach Ollie Blake. After heading to Penticton last year as a spectator, he decided to sign up the following day.

“I was just there watching and I thought, I might as well,” he said.

Blake, 31, will be heading into Sunday’s Ironman as inexperienced as they come. Although he has a lot of experience running short-distance races at a hard pace, he has just one marathon and a few duathalons under his belt. He has been training for the past year, however, and has got a lot of good advice from members of the Masters Swim Club and brother Jasper Blake — the 2007 Ironman Canada winner.

“I’m as ready as I’m going to be,” he said. “Swimming is probably the weakest of all the events but it’s a short part of the day so that should be okay.

“Basically I’m going to go out and see how it goes. I really don’t know what to expect. Everyone just said to expect a long day of pain, and that’s what I’m going to go and experience for myself.”

If racing Ironman without first competing in a half-iron or even an Olympic distance triathlon seems ambitious, Blake has also signed up for the pro category.

“It’s more of a smaller field to start with and you get to start a little earlier, which I thought was a good thing. And looking at the times of the some of the slower pros, I thought that at least in a couple of disciplines I can go at that pace. This is me jumping in with both feet.”


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