IMC Whistler - the Swim

Jason and I were up in Whistler for a weekend holiday, and of course to watch the inaugural Ironman Canada in Whistler.  It was sad to see it move from Penticton after such a rich history there, but man did Whistler ever pull out all the stops and put on a world-class event!  I have never seen as many spectators at an IM outside of Kona, and let's face it - Whistler is one of the nicest spots in the entire world, so what a fab location for an Ironman.  It felt like the Olympics there all over again.

We wanted to be part of it, so signed up to volunteer.  We were part of the water safety team at the swim start, and spent the morning on SUPs on a flat calm and surprising warm Alta Lake.  I was a bit skeptical at first when I heard the swim would take place from Rainbow Park, and was absolutely floored with how clean the swim start was.  I couldn't picture how they could do a start line that wouldn't be incredibly crowded, but they obviously have a super-pro swim director.  The start line was the widest of any IM (apparently), and that was clear when all the athletes were lined up - they were only about 3-5 swimmers deep all along the start line.

Paddling to the start, loaded up with safety gear.
(shout-out to Beaver Boards who loaned us SUPs
for the weekend so we didn't have to bring ours)
Right from when the cannon went off, there was lots of room for the athletes.  Normally mass-start Ironmans see a lot of contact (see my IMAZ report from last year...), and while I'm sure there was a bit here, it was amazing how clean it was and how much room there was for the swimmers.  By three-quarters of the way through, swimmers were in almost a straight line in a big loop around the course - so different from the chaos of many IM swims.

Norm in his full-on cx super fan style.
Locals out spectating at the start.

A few swimmers needed a bit of encouragement not long after the start, mainly from going out to quickly and needing to catch their breath for a bit.  But mostly, we spent the morning paddling around making sure to help spot any emergencies or help any swimmers out.  I spent the last half of the swim tailing one of the last swimmers and encouraging her... she and another guy ended up missing the swim cutoff by four minutes.  Heartbreaking for them, and everyone on the beach and in the water trying to cheer them along.  But then Subaru (the race sponsor) announced they would cover their race entries if they wanted to try again next year - how's that for a super-keen sponsor!

Swimmers on the start line.

Second loop.
Volunteering is such a great way to be a part of an event when you're not racing, and of course gives you a different perspective as well.  I think it's important to get involved at lots of different levels, as it definitely enriches your overall multisport experience.  So I encourage all to spend a day volunteering at a local (or far away) event!

Some highlights from my impression of the Whistler IMC event:

  • amazing spectator support
  • lots to do in Whistler for anyone coming with you who is not racing
  • a tough but fair course
  • incredible scenery
  • run course on path/trail
  • lots of chances to see wildlife - there was even a bear that ran across the run course during the race
  • finish chute through the village stroll
  • lots of accommodation options - condos, hotels, houses, etc - and so many options so no price gouging
  • city that knows how to put on world-class event, and the locals want the race there.

I think IMC Whistler will become one of those destination events that everyone wants to do.  I imagine Jason will be signing up for a future date soon enough, and I may not be far behind.


  1. That's actually pretty cool of Subaru.

  2. Whaaaaa?? I thought no more IMs for you. Next year?????

    1. Ahh I don't know. Definitely not next year. We'll see what happens in the next few months with this stupid knee injury, and what the orthopaedic surgeon says.

  3. Sounds amazing and like you had fun. As you know I love Whistler!

  4. I was totally looking for you out there and definitely saw the pink cowboy hat!
    whistler put on an awesome race. I loved the course and the support.
    That's amazing Subaru offered to cover their entry fees; I hope they take them up on it!

    I just read the above comment. What's going on with your knee? Hope it's not too bad.