Monday, October 15, 2012

Whistler wins bid to host IRONMAN Canada, beating out two other Canadian venues

Alta Lake at Rainbow Park is the swimming venue. Sue Frause photo.
The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) has announced that Whistler will be hosting IRONMAN Canada beginning in 2013. The mountain resort community beat out Kelowna, BC and Huntsville, Ontario to be the latest venue in the Ironman roster. 

The bid submission was made in October 2012  by the Whistler Organizing Committee (WOC), comprised of Tourism Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). The Whistler Organizing Committee focused on six major advantages of a Whistler location when submitting its proposal to the WTC:

  • Unrivaled natural beauty and iconic landmarks with a unique Western Canadian route
  • Brand alignment, with two world-class brands (Whistler + Ironman) working together to provide an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the local, regional, national and international profiles of both
  • Partnership experience in delivering major sporting events
  • Appeal for new and returning Ironman competitors, as the number one year-round mountain resort in North America
  • An enhanced athlete experience in a community renowned for its safe, friendly and welcoming atmosphere
  • Proximity to an international airport in a major urban setting 

Whistler will host the IRONMAN Canada event for five years, with the inaugural event August 21-26, 2013. The remaining dates are July 23-28, 2014; July 22-27, 2015; July 20-25, 2016; and July 26-31, 2017. Event organizers anticipate that IRONMAN Canada Whistler will draw more than 2,000 endurance athletes plus thousands of spectators each year.

Where's the race?  According to IRONMAN Canada, the race starts with a two-loop, 2.4 mile swim in Alta Lake at Rainbow Park. Athletes will enjoy a lakeside transition before starting a one-loop, 112-mile bike course that's comparable in difficulty to the bike routes at IRONMAN Lake Placid, IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene and the previous IRONMAN Canada. Athletes will then travel south on the Sea-to-Sky Highway before climbing into the Callaghan Valley, site of the Nordic skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. After descending back to the highway, athletes pass through Whistler on their way north to Pemberton. And out-and-back section gives athletes panoramic views of glaciated peaks, while racing on a flat section of road. Athletes return to Whistler via the Sea-to-Sky Highway over rolling terrain. The two-loop run course follows the meandering Valley Trail past Lost Lake and green Lake, allowing spectators to reinvigorate athletes with a return through Whistler Village at the halfway point of the run before finishing adjacent to Whistler Olympic Plaza.

What's an Ironman? An IRONMAN triathlon consists of a 3.86 km swim (2.4 miles), 180.25 km bike ride (112 miles) and a full marathon (42.3 km or 26.2 miles). WTC currently owns, operates or produces 90+ IRONMAN 70.3 events worldwide each year. More than 90,000 athletes compete annually in IRONMAN events around the world for positions in the IRONMAN and 70.3 championships. The events usually sell out in minutes. IRONMAN Canada, previously hosted in Penticton, BC, has been part of the global calendar for 30+ years.