Three thousand athletes are currently milling around Penticton this week, intent on tapering, and carbo-loading in preparation for one of the most gruelling events in the world, which will take place this Sunday, August 26th. Almost all of them signed up for the Subaru Ironman Canada a year in advance (places usually fill up on the day after the race for the next year) and have had twelve months to train for the 3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle, followed by a full marathon, 42.2 km.
Ironman Canada, for many years the only Ironman in Canada, was the first Ironman triathlon in North America and actually one of the oldest in the world (the original race was in Kona in Hawaii). Penticton is a perfect setting with its lakes, mountain slopes, climate and its welcoming and supportive community, and people flock there from all over Canada, and the world, to compete in this prestigious race.
‘The probability of rain is only slight at this time of year’, says the Subaru Ironman Canada website, but don’t rely on this. Hopefully the thunder and rain last Tuesday has cleared the air for a calm, sunny weekend. However the weather plays out, the athletes will be up at the crack of dawn and standing by Okanagan Lake in their wetsuits at 6.50am waiting for the national anthem to signal the start of what will be, for some, a very long day. Top pro athletes will cross the finish line anytime from 8.5 hours on, but the real heroes of the day are those people who have overcome incredible setbacks, obstacles and challenges to complete this lofty goal.
However, when all the excitement of this Sunday’s race is over, the words Penticton and Ironman will no longer go together. A recent announcement by the City of Penticton that it has officially parted ways with Subaru Ironman Canada and signed a significant contract with the Challenge Family, a distance triathlon company based out of Germany, has met with mixed reactions. The Challenge Penticton will take place on August 25, 2013 in place of Ironman Canada.
However, for those seeking to do an Ironman in Canada, check out Ironman Quebec, which is held around the weekend of August 17/18. Mont Tremblant offers a very attractive alternative, with a beautiful course which winds through the forests and mountains of this winter ski resort.