If you haven’t been following the mayhem, Ironman Canada is dead, long live Ironman Canada. At the end of the 30th anniversary Ironman Canada Penticton, the city of Penticton and the World Triathlon Corp. parted ways. The European challenger for triathlon ‘ultra-distance’ races, the Challenge Family, have swooped in to claim their first North American venue on the venerated Penticton Iron-distance course. While I’m reserving my opinion on whether that’s a good thing or not until I can actually race a Challenge event, the more political news is that Ironman Canada will not move to Mt. Tremblant, but rather will land in one of three new cities in this fair land. On the eve of the decision, I thought I’d way in the finalists.
It seems that WTC has chosen three finalist from the seven communities that submitted bids: Kelowna, BC; Huntsville, Ontario and Whistler, BC. Now, the idea of an Ironman Canada in Huntsville doesn’t appeal much. I mean, there’s already Mt. Tremblant only 500 km away. That and a western Canadian event is good for the sport…one at each end of the country. Ironman Canada Whistler sounds just about perfect: they have all the facilities its an amazing location…and its in the west. I’ve always wanted to get up to Whistler to ski, but doing an Ironman up there would be a damn fine event too. I’d originally figured that Calgary would be in the running too since they would have a great venue for 3000 athletes, but the mystique of Whistler-Blackcomb can’t be argued.The surprise for me was definitely Kelowna. Why Kelowna, why? Ostensibly the city of Kelowna would try to run Ironman Canada on the same weekend as the Challenge event a mere 65km away. There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea:You split the athlete community by making them choose an event. While most athletes will need to pick one in any given year, this would make it impossible to compete in one, and volunteer or even watch the other.You split the volunteer community. Volunteers are what make these events happen. Do you think the triathlon community, and more importantly, the communities of Penticton and Kelowna have enough good people who will volunteer at two international events on the same weekend? No, I don’t either.I doubt there is sufficient lodging for all those athletes and volunteers for both events withing 100kms. People will be forced to drive from farther afield which is dangerous for athletes behind the wheel and those training on the roads.There is only a single trauma center for both: Kelowna General. Imagine how hard it will be for ambulances to get through Kelowna from Penticton with an Ironman going on?What about the Apple? Kelowna has done a beautiful job of creating one of the best Olympic distance triathlons in the country. Why would the city risk destroying such a venerable event, also at 30+ years, merely for the dubious cache of the “Ironman” moniker.I think Kelowna is the worst possible location that could be considered and I hope for the good of the sport and the good of Kelowna that they are not chosen. As Rafael Lopez put it so eloquently:> I would be lying if it didn’t seem that Kelowna was trying to capitalize on the WTC’s desire to keep other races out of their sandbox, a pretty transparent move that I know would alienate a lot of triathletes.And now we wait for the Kona announcement and see what will be.Update:So as it turns out, my wish was granted and the best location won. While I’m sad to see the Ironman brand leave the valley, I’m thrilled at the chance of racing in Whistler in 2016!