For a trio of Squamish residents, the first-ever Ironman event in Whistler was a challenging but mostly smooth inaugural edition.
Brackendale’s Volker Schneider had the second-best local time and told The Chief the Aug. 25 triathlon taking place for the first time in Whistler had a solid debut.
“All in all, IMC Whistler was fairly well organized given it was the inaugural year,” he wrote in an email to The Chief. “There will probably be some changes, such as the transition bike mount, swim course and maybe even the bike course — they had us go in the middle of Highway 99 at times and the routing was not always clear.
“The venue, though, is amazing with the finish right next to Olympic Plaza. The volunteers were outstanding, very passionate and helpful. This was a little surprising because there would be lots of new volunteers that have not been involved in Ironman before.”
Schneider did say that he hopes organizers increase the officiating presence in the Pemberton Meadows section of the bike course.
“There were literally packs of riders sucking wheel and no officials were there,” he said. “Drafting is a huge advantage on flats. I saw riders getting penalties later on the steep climbs when there is no drafting effect. This was very poor performance and behaviour by Ironman officials. They should have been penalizing people where it counts, not on the final 20 km when everyone is going 12km/h up a steep hill.”
He said he was pleased with his time of 10 hours, 23 minutes, 26 seconds, but after intense training since the winter, he’s unlikely to return in 2014.
“I am super happy with the outcome,” he said. “I overachieved my goals in IM. Now I can finally get my life back. I will probably be volunteering and spectating next year.”
Squamish’s Tim Moore was another local who had a solid day. Moore finished with a time of 10:59:11 and said the Whistler course compares favourably with the six other Ironman courses on which he has competed.
“The organizers did a great job overall,” he said. “The volunteers were superb and the atmosphere cycling north through both Whistler and Pemberton was impressive. The energy from the spectators while running the two laps within Whistler was much appreciated and the medical staff were excellent.”
He echoed Schneider’s thoughts on both the first transition area and the drafting issues in Pemberton.
“I'd appreciate a few minor tweaks to the first transition area at Alta Lake as well as finding a smoother way to end the bike and also a slightly smoother finish to the run too,” he said. “A huge challenge for the organizers next year is controlling the drafting that took place in the meadows in Pemberton. I had several packs of 20 to 40 athletes overwhelm me and I saw several other packs already far ahead of me heading back to town. Clearly, many athletes decided the risk of being caught was worth it.”
For Garibaldi Highlands resident Monica Rohl, the completion of the Ironman race was one of the biggest steps in a journey back to better health. Rohl said moving to Squamish has helped inspire her to get in better shape and the Ironman was the cherry on top.
“I moved to Squamish four years ago as an obese woman who had never been into sports,” she told The Chief. “Until moving to Squamish, I have never biked or ran and had not swam since the days of childhood swim lessons. After learning to run three years ago, I have completed a few full marathons; the 2012 Squamish 50, the 2012 Squamish Triathlon, this year’s Tough Mudder and Vancouver’s Subaru Half Ironman six weeks ago.”
Rohl finished the Ironman in 16:40:50 and thanked her friends for helping to inspire her along the way.
“Not an impressive time but it was my time,” she said. “I finished and I am an Ironman.”
Those wanting to learn more about Rohl’s journey can visit her blog at www.inspiremonica.weekly.com.
For more information and complete results from the Ironman, visit www.ironman.com.