On Sunday, Aug. 26 a total of 10 Whistler athletes will be taking part in Ironman Canada, the national Ironman championships and a qualifier for the world championships in October.
It’s a diverse group heading to Penticton this year, a mix of veterans, first timers, and athletes that have raced before but have sat out the last few years.
The course includes a 3.8 km swim on Lake Okanagan, a 180 km bike that loops from Penticton to Osoyoos to Keremos, and back to Penticton, and a 42.2 km out-and-back run course between Penticton and Okanagan Falls. More than 3,000 athletes will enter the lake at 7 a.m., and the run course closes at midnight. Athletes can take anywhere from eight and a half hours to 17 hours to finish the race.
The weather is expected to climb into the low 30s, but the air quality may pose a challenge as wildfires burn over the border in Washington.
One of the newcomers this year is Whistler Mountain Ski Club coach Ollie Blake. After heading to Penticton last year as a spectator, he decided to sign up the following day.
“I was just there watching and I thought, I might as well,” he said.
Blake, 31, will be heading into Sunday’s Ironman as inexperienced as they come. Although he has a lot of experience running short-distance races at a hard pace, he has just one marathon and a few duathalons under his belt. He has been training for the past year, however, and has got a lot of good advice from members of the Masters Swim Club and brother Jasper Blake — the 2007 Ironman Canada winner.
“I’m as ready as I’m going to be,” he said. “Swimming is probably the weakest of all the events but it’s a short part of the day so that should be okay.
“Basically I’m going to go out and see how it goes. I really don’t know what to expect. Everyone just said to expect a long day of pain, and that’s what I’m going to go and experience for myself.”
If racing Ironman without first competing in a half-iron or even an Olympic distance triathlon seems ambitious, Blake has also signed up for the pro category.
“It’s more of a smaller field to start with and you get to start a little earlier, which I thought was a good thing. And looking at the times of the some of the slower pros, I thought that at least in a couple of disciplines I can go at that pace. This is me jumping in with both feet.”