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Smooth sailing for Ironman Canada

Changes from the top on tap for 2016



Race day is a grind for Subaru Ironman Canada competitors, for sure.

But when the weather is less than stellar, it provides a severe challenge for staffers and volunteers as well.

In the race's third trip to Whistler since moving from Penticton, race director Evan Taylor was impressed with the strong contingent of about 2,000 who gave their time to help the event, battling the cold and rain.

"The volunteers were outstanding as usual," he said. "We had volunteers who were saying 'What do you need me to do? I've finished my shift. Where do you need me?'

"We're super thankful we had such great volunteers."

Taylor also said the race ran smoothly, as several of the volunteers had previous experience and are finding a greater level of comfort in their roles.

The chilly and rainy weather eventually gave way to sunny conditions in the afternoon before some drizzle returned in the evening. While the athletes struggled with the conditions, and several dropped out after the swimming stage, Taylor said there weren't any significant illnesses or injuries as a result of the conditions. He said most afflictions were not serious, with the bulk of competitors dealing with the effects of hypothermia.

"We're no strangers to extreme conditions, whether it be extreme heat or fire or rain or snow or anything like that, so we take it in our stride," he said. "We actually had very, very minor effects of the weather, basically to do with the cold and hypothermia and things like that, which are fairly easy to treat once you get the athlete.

"We had barely any cuts and bruises, either."

There were roughly 2,100 registrations, while about 1,950 of those people ultimately showed up.

The number may dip a bit next year, though. The Ironman event in 2016 will have a different look, as the professional field will be exclusively male. Females looking to race that day, July 24, 2016, will do so in Lake Placid, N.Y. The move was announced in a release from Ironman's Florida headquarters on July 27.

Taylor said he had been so encompassed with this weekend's race that he hadn't gotten fully up to speed for next year.

"We're still working through the details. I'm just trying to get this one out of the way first," he said.

In the release, Ironman CEO Andrew Merrick said the change is being made based on athlete feedback to highlight men and women independently.

"We are excited to try this pilot in 2016 and provide our female and male pros a unique racing experience, and a platform for each athlete field to shine. We hope to see an amazing professional line up and outstanding competition at these races," he said in the release.

The two other male professional races will be the Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) race in Santa Cruz, Calif. on Sept. 11, 2016 and the full Ironman in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Sept. 25, 2016. For the women, the other full race will be in Wisconsin on Sept. 11, while the half-distance race will be in Augusta, Ga. on Sept. 25.

Two more Ironman Canada events are covered under the five-year contract Whistler was awarded after beating out bids from Kelowna and Huntsville, Ont. to host the race. Nothing is set in stone beyond the 2017 race, though there has been talk of the event moving. Taylor said that chatter is news to him.

"I've never heard anything like that," he said.