Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden confirmed Friday, Sept. 28 that Ironman has shortlisted Whistler as a possible location for Canada's largest endurance triathlon.
Steve Meckfessel, the event licensing director with the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), confirmed that Whistler, Kelowna and Huntsville are the three communities now left in the running to host Ironman Canada. The opportunity came about when the traditional host community, Penticton, announced it is partnering with another organization to offer Challenge Penticton in 2013. Penticton's race next year will feature the same swimming, biking and running distances but the competing organization group reportedly charges lower entry fees and offers greater prize amounts for the fastest competitors.
Meckfessel didn't say anything beyond what was contained in a news release published by the WTC on Friday announcing the shortlist of potential host communities.
Seven Canadian communities submitted bids. According to the WTC news release, Ironman staff will now travel to all three shortlisted places in B.C. and Ontario to "conduct in-depth visits" of each location.
Meckfessel said a final host community decision is expected to be announced along with additional event-related details by mid-October.
Wilhelm-Morden wrote on her Facebook page that the news is exciting.
"Cudos to our staff and that of TW who put this bid together in very short order," wrote the mayor.
Tourism Whistler submitted the bid earlier this month through a bid committee partnership consisting of TW and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
The race in Penticton attracted 3,000 athletes each year, plus thousands more family and friends who came out to Penticton to spectate.
The logistics of hosting the event in Whistler will be considerable — the Ironman starts off with a mass start swim covering a distance of 2.4 miles (3.9km), followed by a 112-mile (180.25km) bike leg, followed by a full-length 26.2-mile (42.2km) marathon. It also takes hundreds of staff and volunteers to put on each year, while generating up to $10 million of economic activity each year.
The WTC manages about 190 events around the world. The Ironman World Championships held each year in Hawaii is one of the largest events put on by the WTC. The Ironman Canada event in Penticton has traditionally been a qualifier for the world championship race in Hawaii. The Ironman World Championships this year are slated for Oct. 13.
-with files from Andrew Mitchell