No rust on Ironman, despite rain

Highway opens earlier than advertised, businesses reap rewards

The bodies of elite Ironman athletes seem to run like well-oiled machines and the annual Ironman Canada event is now also showing signs of operating at peak efficiency. Almost 2,000 people lined up on the shores of Alta Lake Sunday morning (July 26), requiring an immense effort on the part of organizers, volunteers and of course, the athletes themselves.
“Obviously we had some challenges with the weather in the morning, but despite that, this was one of the smoothest events we’ve done so far,” said Ironman Canada Race Director Evan Taylor. “We had some athletes that were quite cold on the bike and (had some athletes) drop out as a result, but we stocked up on the heat blankets and made sure we had extra heaters in the change tents, the massage tents and medical. The sun we had in the middle part of the day was a blessing, it certainly helped out with the cold conditions.”
Ironman Canada is now in its third year in Whistler and the traffic management is beginning to show signs of improvement from the initial event in 2013.
“We worked extensively this year with the Ministry of Transportation (MOT), Miller Capilano and all the stakeholders to ensure we hit our targets,” said Taylor. “We managed to open the roads earlier than our posted times. We met with the MOT and the municipality last night and they were absolutely (delighted). We’ve got it dialed now and we just need to keep up that good work.”
Volunteer teams were also working with two past Ironman events worth of experience under their belts, being able to train new recruits effectively in a limited amount of time. While the 2015 Ironman had sufficient volunteers, many were offering to stay beyond their allotted shifts.
“It was surprising that we had volunteers who had just finished their one shift and then said ‘where do you need us?’” said Taylor. “That happened right up until midnight, it was great to see. They were out there in the rain all day, we loved the support.”
Retail businesses also fared well this past weekend, the product and merchandise tents around Olympic Plaza attracting athletes, their friends and families, and even non-Ironman visitors. As one of the closest bike shops to the plaza, Skiis&Biikes was busiest on Thursday and Friday as athletes stocked up on race supplies.
“Everyone was test riding their bikes, making sure they had the right parts on,” said Lou Currie, manager of Skiis&Biikes. “There’s three things that (Ironman athletes) tend to buy; tubes, Chamois Butt’r and CO2 refills. Those products were just walking out the door.”
Non-cycling retail businesses also managed to capitalize on the increased traffic with athletes requiring technical clothing to combat the cool temperatures on Sunday.
“We sold lots of base layers – tops and bottoms – and snug-fitting rain shells,” said Larry Falcon, manager of the Escape Route and Arc’teryx stores. “We also sold lots of merino gloves and skull caps. Most of the participants arrive with almost everything they need, so Saturday was unique that way because of the weather change. But their friends and families shop, thank goodness for that.”

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