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Made of iron

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A dozen Whistler locals are taking part in next weekend’s Ironman Canada

You’ve probably seen them swimming around Lost Lake in their wetsuits, riding road bikes up and down the Sea to Sky corridor, running on the Valley Trail.

This year a total of 11 Whistler athletes will be taking part in the annual Ironman Canada competition in Penticton on Aug. 24, competing for personal bests, spots in the world championships, and the fun of it.

Six of the competitors are from three married couples, two competitors are over the age of 60, and the majority of them have competed in more than one Ironman.

The Ironman race starts off with a 3.86 km swim, followed by a 180.2 km bike ride. The last stage is a full marathon of 42.2 km. Although it is one of the most challenging races, the Ironman Canada event routinely attracts more than 2,000 racers from around the world. Not only is it considered to be a good race with excellent volunteer support and beautiful views, it is also a qualifier for the Ironman World Championships held every fall in Kona, Hawaii.

The list of Whistler athletes includes John and Grace Blok, Murray Coates, Ian Goard, Daniel Havens, David and Brandi Higgins, Paul Nicholas, Mae Palm, and Christine and Paul Suter.

Although they all have different reasons for competing in Ironman, and different goals for when they get there, they have one thing in common – training. Although it can take anywhere from eight hours to 14 hours from start to finish, it takes a year of intense training, up to 20 hours a week, to do an Ironman.

Brandi and David Higgins

The husband and wife team of Brandi and David Higgins are taking part in their first Ironman this year. Their goal, says David, is just to finish – "We’d be killed trying to do anything else."

Both are swimmers, and have one marathon, one half-Ironman, and several spring triathlons under their belts. As masters swim coaches, they worked out in the pool with locals who were in training for all kinds of triathlons, including the Ironman, and decided it was something they had to do.

Since then they have put in between 10 and 20 hours a week of cross-training – running, cycling and swimming – to get ready for Aug. 24.

David’s goal is to finish between 11 and 12 hours.

He is enjoying the training, and is amazed that he can go out for a 120 km bike ride or a two and a half hour run and still feel strong.

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