Taking it in at Kona this weekend

So it’s official, the 31st hosting of Ironman Canada will take place in Whistler, British Columbia on August 25, 2013.  The news broke last week and it seems that the reaction on the interweb has been mixed, but overall generally positive.  I was in Kona, HI on Saturday watching the Ironman World Championships and the general reaction I was getting from athletes in the know over there was positive as well.

With the success of Ironman Mont Tremblant no one can really say they were surprised at the venue choice of Whistler.  The ski resort’s success with the 2010 Winter Olympics, super natural beauty, and off peak season timing of the race made it an ideal venue for Ironman Canada.

The swim will be a two loop course in Alta Lake, which *should* have a water temp around 21 degrees in late August, though I’ll believe this when I see it.  With slightly over 1400m of total climbing, the single loop bike course is similar to the overall profile of the old Ironman Canada which had just under 1400m of climbing.  Lastly, the run will also be a two loop course going through the Whistler Village at the halfway point.

I must say I’m pretty excited to hear that Western Canada will be keeping the race and as soon as news broke I went ahead and booked accommodations before the rush of entrants inflated prices.  I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll race yet, but I am on the early entrance list and will have to decide some time in the next couple of days.

A lot of people have expressed their discontent with WTC over their decision to put the race on the same day as Challenge Penticton.  I honestly believe that this is one of those situations where both parties share the blame for not being able to play nice in the same sandbox.  To play devil’s advocate, at the end of the day WTC holds the right to the name and race of Ironman Canada, basically all they’ve done is change the location to Whistler, you can’t fault them with wanting to keep the date and defend their market.  On the contrary, Challenge series moved in to the recently vacated venue of Ironman Canada in Penticton and took over a race course with a thirty year legacy, and will now call it their own.  I would love to have seen Challenge show up on North American shores with plans to build up their own race legacy in a place like Whistler or Victoria.  With Challenge’s solid reputation in the triathlon community I think they would have garnered some instant success similar to the Rev3 series.

On the other hand, Ironman spent years treating Penticton and IMC like a second class race since it was one of the few races outside of the WTC’s direct involvement.  I can’t blame the city council of Penticton or the Challenge series for wanting to create a win-win solution when WTC left town, and changing the date of the race may have simply not been an option.

I want to see both races succeed because having two Iron distance races in Western Canada is a great thing for the sport.  With their athlete experience focus, relay options available, and a deep purse, Challenge Penticton is going to be an amazing race and I’d enthusiastically encourage anyone to give the race a chance and I already know several people who have signed up.  Similarly, in its new Whistler home I do believe that Ironman Canada will create a new legacy in one of the most awe inspiring settings on the planet.  If both races don’t sell out or come close, I hope that in 2014 one of the races is brought three to four weeks forward for the benefit their respective organizations, and more importantly for the athletes.

A lot of people will now be deciding between the two races.  I’d give them this advice, race the course that most excites you.  The only sad thing is that none of us can race both of them this year.

The shores of Lake Okanagan before the start this year

Challenge is now the keeper of one of the oldest Iron distance races in the world outside of Kona, and the only other single loop course outside of Kona.  I can tell you first hand, its a stunning course with a rich history.  No matter what anyone tells you, an Ironman is what you become when you swim 3.8km, bike 180km, and run 42.2km, doesn’t matter whether its on a Challenge course, Rev3 course, or WTC course.  If the terminology is what’s throwing you off, get over it.  In the words of Bill Shakespeare, what’s in a name?  Would a rose by any other name not smell as sweet?

Ironman Canada is now in Whistler, BC.  There’s Old Testament and there’s New Testament, there Star Wars Episodes IV-VI and there’s Star Wars Episodes I-III, there’s the Sean Connery Bond and the Daniel Craig Bond (and a bunch in between).  Things change, and that should excite us.  If executed right, this race will rock.