Danielle Mack overcame chilly conditions to win Subaru Ironman Canada in 2015.
The Boulder, Colo. resident is hoping for a warmer welcome than last time as she tries to defend her title. (After both men and women professionals attended in the first three years in Whistler, only male professionals competed here in 2016, with women switching in this time.)
"It was really cold and rainy the year that I won, which I believe was a benefit for me because I love hard courses. It's another reason why I love Canada because there's a lot of climbing on the bike, it's not super flat, and so the greater the challenge, I think it's more intriguing and more fun. Being able to overcome the rain and the cold and staying mentally focused was the biggest feat that day," the 30-year-old said.
However, since crossing the line just over two minutes ahead of Canadian Melanie McQuaid two years ago, Mack has dealt with injury issues that have left her grateful to compete in Whistler once again.
"My biggest thing now is to appreciate every time I get to race, to find the joy in racing instead of just going and trying to win," she said. "I really believe anything can happen on any given day and sometimes it just works out that it's your day."
The biggest change, the three-time Ironman champion explained, has come in her training as she's shifted her attitude to avoid pushing herself to the breaking point, instead listening to her body to find a balance.
"(Before), I used to just go as hard as I could in every training session, and it didn't work well. Now, it's more just trying to listen to my body and being more in the moment than just going off of what you desire," Mack explained. "Before, I used to think the harder you went, the better and more prepared you were going to be, and you could push through anything because you did it in training," she said. "With time, I learned that is not the best approach."
And she's not the only contender who's adopted that attitude.
Linsey Corbin, a 36-year-old, five-time Ironman champion, has also battled the injury bug in recent years, changing her approach accordingly.
Corbin, who also has three half-distance 70.3 wins under her belt, has embraced "prehab" over rehab to give her body added stability.
"Consistent training trumps being a hero for a few sessions and then being sick for a week or sidelined with an injury," the Bend, Ore. resident said. "The focus has always been on respecting the recovery and the easy days. When the session calls for going hard, we go hard, but really listening to the recovery.
"It's better to be underprepared and maybe a bit healthier than crossing that line of overprepared but not able to compete."
Like Mack, Corbin has also learned to appreciate every chance she gets to compete as she seeks her first victory since winning in Austria in 2014.
"Since coming back from injury, I have more appreciation for being healthy and training consistently," she said. "Before, maybe I took some of those opportunities for granted."
Another serious contender to Mack's crown recently had a perspective shift, but not because of injury. Far from it, actually.
Rachel Joyce, a British athlete living in Colorado for the past four years, welcomed her first child, son Archie, with partner Brett Hedges last fall.
"We had a son last September so training is different again. With a little one to look after, I feel like my perspective has changed since having Archie," she said.
The four-time Ironman champion and 2011 International Triathlon Union long-course world champion returned triumphantly after becoming a mom, winning her first race since 2013 in Boulder last month.
Training in mountainous climates has been beneficial for Corbin, Mack and Joyce, so while Mack has the previous knowledge of where to accelerate, two of her main challengers should be able to keep pace.
"I live in the mountains in Bend, Ore. so I train on terrain similar to what I think the course will be. Hopefully that'll make for good preparation for me," Corbin said.
"I definitely looked at the course profile and thankfully, we've got a lot of mountains nearby, so I can ride up and come down to prepare me for Whistler," Joyce added.
Organizers are expecting about 25 professionals to compete for the title, while another 3,000 age-group athletes will challenge both the full (140.6 miles or 226.2 kilometres) and half (70.3 miles or 113.1 km) courses.
The 2017 edition of Subaru Ironman Canada is the last one scheduled for Whistler and Pemberton; negotiations continue between the World Triathlon Corporation, Tourism Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. The Village of Pemberton council recently voted against supporting a three-year extension of the event as residents and businesses there have grown increasingly frustrated with road closures, lack of foot traffic to business on race day and lack of offsetting benefits in return. VOP councillors cited safety issues for declining to support an extension.
An RMOW spokesperson said discussions regarding an extension are still ongoing.