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Whistler gearing up for Ironman

Organizers are expecting race to sell out quickly, despite conflict with another race

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McGonigal acknowledged that they still had a lot of planning to do, but had some ideas how they would manage the swim mass start at Rainbow Park — an event that draws 10,000 spectators in Penticton.

"We're going to do some things to be creative with the space that's available, and we're looking hard at the transition layout and how things are going to work at Rainbow, but certainly there will be opportunities for spectators there," he said. As well, he said they would use the finish area at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

"The other thing we're going to do throughout the day, and particularly with the swim start, is to have live video feedback to Whistler Olympic Plaza so people can be observing the race and watching what's going on there. We'll have it set up so people can see specific athletes they're looking to see — and then, depending on how it's routed (spectators) will be able to watch athletes come out of the water at Rainbow, and then walk down to the highway to see the athletes ride past."

It's still unknown how the race will disrupt local traffic, but McGonigal said they hope to get those details soon to share with residents. "In the months leading up to the event, there will be a resident notification which will announce specifically which roads are impacted and the time frames and all of that," he said. "We're certainly aware that the impacts to the local community based on us coming to town will be there, and we will do everything we can to minimize the impact as much as possible."

Whistler is contributing $100,000 in provincial Resort Municipality Initiative funds to cover the fees for hosting the event, plus other in-kind and support services. The total cost to host the event could be in the neighbourhood of $250,000.

However, the economic benefits are potentially huge.

Barrett Fisher, president and CEO of Tourism Whistler, thanked all the partners in the bid, including the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

"All of our resort partners supported the bid as well, with the hotel community unanimously supporting it as well as the business community that will benefit from the estimated 15,000-plus room nights the event will generate. We had the support of Pemberton, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, CN Rail, the Ministry of Transportation. There are lots of things still to be confirmed, but we're exceptionally excited that Whistler was chosen.

"This was a team effort, where Tourism Whistler took the lead in submitting the bid and in the negotiations and presenting the bid, and in turn the municipality has certainly stepped up, mayor and council and the team from the municipality, in supporting it through RMI funds."

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