ironman canada // course preview


I almost asked coach if I could race Ironman Canada this weekend. Because FOMO.

As my first 140.6 distance race, Whistler holds a special place in my heart, and I’m a little sad to not be toeing the line there on Sunday. It’s a magical place… the mountains, the ocean, the woods, crisp clean air (maybe we should move to the Pacific Northwest, Nick?!). No doubt about it, I’ll race there again… who’s in for 2015?!

With that, here’s a quick rundown of the course :) 


Surrounded by mountains, the two-loop swim in Alta Lake is nothing short of spectacular. The deep blue-green water is crystal clear and because it’s mountain fed, it’s clean and the perfect wetsuit temp (it was about 68 degrees last year). For the in-water start, I got in the water about 10 minutes prior to go and positioned midway back on the left. I swam just to the left of the numbered buoys – it’s a counterclockwise swim with sunrise to your left during the first straightaway – and had zero issues with anyone swimming over me, kicking me or ripping off my goggles. The turn buoys are a bit of a cluster, so be prepared to fight for position a bit. In 2013, racers were allowed to stay in the water between the two loops – much preferred (for me) rather than running out on the beach and back in.

For more on the swim, see my race report.



Oh, the bike! There isn’t a much more scenic road to bike than the Sea-to-Sky Highway (which was closed to traffic on race day)… water on one side and mountains all around. It starts from Rainbow Park with a longer run across train tracks and around a corner before crossing the line to hop on. Almost immediately, you’re smacked with an uphill followed by some rollers, so be sure to start in an easier gear. The first 30 miles are an out and back to Callaghan Valley, with the first half mostly climbing. After biking through Whistler again, the course winds north, up and down, toward Pemberton. Bike special needs is downtown Pemberton right before the 30-mile flat stretch on Pemberton Meadows Road. There were many pelotons here in 2013, and while it’s tempting to join them or hammer it, conserve a bit for the big 22-mile climb back to Whistler and T2. There’s a wicked S-curve descent on the climb back, so be cautious and slow down; it’s quite precarious, and though I love bombing down mountains, this one turn was terrifying (driving this section before the race is a good idea). 

Remember: What goes up (and there’s a lot of up – 6,000 feet or so) must come down. My top speed was 46 mph, so be prepared for some flying descents. I was quite glad to have a 12-27 cassette.

More bike info on my race report.



The two-loop run is a nice mix of shaded and sunny asphalt trail and a little bit of gravel. It starts near Olympic Plaza and winds through the woods – that fresh pine tree scent! – and eventually snakes along Green Lake (where I saw a bear!), an out and back in the sun. After the turnaround it heads back by the lake and around Whistler village before starting loop two. A heads-up: The course is hilly. My 910 read about 2,000 feet of climbing, though I don’t recall it feeling like that much. The last mile is deceiving, as you can hear finish line cheering and “you are an ironman!” while you’re still winding around the village. And, when you finally round the corner… nothing beats that feeling of seeing – and crossing – the finish line.

More run info on my race report



One other tip… add international calling to your cell phone plan. It’s fairly inexpensive (I think my Verizon was around $50), which sure beats overcharges if you don’t. That said, fifty bucks doesn’t go far, so hop onto free wifi whenever you can. 

Best of luck to all my friends racing! Crush it, JuliaKatieAnabel, ArielleLeslie and Jared

Happy racing, friends!

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  • Reply Kecia 07/23/2014 at 12:00 pm

    GREAT course preview!! I will definitely be racing this race, but not sure if it will be 2015 or 2016. Our pocketbook could use a break ;)

  • Reply Amy 07/23/2014 at 1:19 pm

    This is fabulous! I can only hope that when my day comes, I will look as happy and strong as you.

  • Reply hyedi 07/23/2014 at 5:18 pm

    Gorgeous photos! Can’t believe it’s been a year already!

  • Reply Luv What You Do 07/23/2014 at 8:13 pm

    Wow! That looks amazing! I don’t think I’l make 2015 but I wish I could say I’m In!

  • Reply Leslie @ TriathleteTreats 07/23/2014 at 9:57 pm

    I am getting really excited! I read all your recaps last weekend and that got me pumped up! Thanks for the review! I can’t believe this is going down in 4 days!! ahhhhhh!!!! They changed the run course a little. I think that it will be better for seeing others. There is a loop around Lost Lake and then the rest of it is an out and back. Thanks for the shout-out! Wish you were going to be there! :)

  • Reply Danielle @ I Eat Therefore I Run 07/24/2014 at 4:19 am

    Very cool Erin! Great photos as well. Makes me almost want to do this race…. We’ll see how my Try a tri goes ;)

  • Reply Erin 07/24/2014 at 11:13 am

    Did you see that its snowing at the top of the ski area today? If ONLY we had snow for Boulder…

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust 07/24/2014 at 7:07 pm

    These pictures gave me chills and may have convinced me to really REALLY consider IM Canada for 2015. It looks like a beautiful course and one that resembles home. Your experience looks priceless!

  • Reply Change of Pace 07/25/2014 at 10:12 am

    That would have been great if you signed up last minute, but keep your eye on the prize of your race!
    The peletons were insane on the flat part; I couldn’t believe more people didn’t get penalties!
    I think the whistler run course was my favourite of the four. You can’t beat those soft trails!

  • Reply Kristina 07/25/2014 at 2:29 pm

    Great recap – it definitely makes me want to put it on my “list” (if I ever do another IM, that is)! Good for you for staying focused, but I can see why you would want to repeat the experience.

  • Reply Karyn 07/25/2014 at 2:33 pm

    Great course preview! My FOMO was definitely strong on this one too! Who knows, maybe I’ll still have to hop on a ferry and go check it out in person (spectator only of course). That said, 2015 is probably a no go for me, but perhaps it’ll be on the agenda in 2016. See you there? ;)

  • Reply Kristin (@SweatCourage) 07/25/2014 at 8:51 pm

    Wow add this to my race bucket list! Holy smokes this race looks like heaven on earth to me. I dream of going to British Columbia and to be able to combine that with an Ironman would be perfection. I seriously might consider this, although it would require a plane ticket, but very tempting for 2015 or 2016! I love that photo of you running up close, adorable !

  • Reply Alyssa @ Don't Look Down 07/31/2014 at 1:49 pm

    This makes me want to sign up for next year! The course looks so beautiful! I can’t wait till IMWI is here!

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