Whistler will host one of the most competitive and difficult events on earth (no, not Tough Mudder) in the upcoming weeks with Ironman Whistler set for July 27.
This is the second year the event is taking place in Whistler’s hilly terrain. The task of completing a marathon is tough enough, but how about preceding it with a 3.86-km lake swim and a 180-km bike ride? Who is crazy or fit enough to sign up for such an event? Well according to last year’s results exactly 2,300 people.
Local Shane Reside signed up for this year’s event out of what he described as “sheer lunacy.”
“It was a rather irresponsible bet that I made with a friend two days before last year’s Ironman,” he said. “We were drinking on the patio at Citta’, watching all of the ridiculously fit competitors wander the Village Stroll, and I claimed, as people do whilst drinking, that I could probably do an Ironman. A friend offered to pay my entry fee, we shook hands, and nine months later, here I am.”
For Nancy Johnston, this will be her third Ironman with her first in Pentiction in 2009 and then Whistler in 2013. Despite being an experienced competitor she said that “the run is always the most difficult part for me. It is a walk-run at times. The key is to keep moving forward. Mostly, the fresher I am at the start of the day the better shape I will be in for the run. So I adhere to the taper my coach has planned.”
However, what keeps her motivated is the hometown advantage. “It is unbelievable and overwhelming support and energy from my family, friends, colleagues from both Whistler and Pemberton, start to finish,” she said.
Johnston also said that although the run is the toughest part, Lost Lake is her “happy place” and the two loops around the lake on the course keep her motivated.
For Reside “the hometown and local advantage is huge,” he said. “Last year’s feedback about the course was that the bicycle portion was pretty punishing, so at least I know what to expect. And since this is my first Ironman and I have no frame of reference, this course is just normal to me.”
Despite having never completed a marathon, Reside said the running portion of the race motivates him. “While a marathon is obviously much less enjoyable after a 3.8-km swim and 180-km ride, running is the one activity that I’ve enjoyed and felt optimistic about from day one,” he said.
Arguably, Reside and Johnston each sit in very different places of the Ironman competitor spectrum. However, what they both prove is that dedication, passion and a hometown advantage can be the perfect combination for the Ironman competitor.