Ironman Whistler 2019 | Full Breakdown including Course, Accommodation and More
There are tons of epic events in Whistler in the summer. But none comes close to the sheer challenge and intensity of the Ironman Canada. One of the most picturesque, but also most difficult Ironman courses in the world, it draws athletes from around the globe every year.
Held on a sunny weekend in July, the Ironman in Whistler is the ultimate test of an athlete’s endurance, preparation and tenacity. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate athletic challenge, or you’d just like to witness this insane event for yourself, it’s worth checking out the Ironman Whistler in 2019.
What to Know about Ironman in Whistler 2019
If you’re considering signing up to this one of a kind challenge, here’s what to expect on the day.
- When: Race day is Sunday, July 28, 2019. That time of year, you can expect beautiful sunshine and sometimes soaring temperatures. Luckily, that means the lakes are the perfect temperature for a swim!
- Where: The course starts and ends in Whistler village, and takes in all the highlights of the Sea to Sky corridor. It features a swim in the iconic Alta Lake, a cycle up the stunning Callaghan Valley, and a run past two of Whistler’s other great lakes: Lost Lake and Green Lake. You’ll finish in the Olympic Plaza, where athletes are greeted by hoards of spectators and a buzzing athlete’s village.
All About the Course
- Elevation: This is the Coast mountains, after all, so elevation gain is something of a feature at Iron Man Canada. The two-lap bike course includes a whopping 2405m of elevation gain. That’s the equivalent of climbing from sea level to above the peak of Blackcomb mountain. Rather you than me….Luckily the run course has a more achievable 316m elevation gain, mostly staying in the bottom of Whistler valley.
- Race Course: Even if you’re not considering racing, it’s worth dwelling on just how intense the Ironman Canada course is. You can find maps, descriptions and pro-tips on the Ironman website too.
- Swim: There a few places I’d less rather be than the shore of Alta Lake at 5.30am. But that’s where you’ll find the Ironman athletes on a (hopefully sunny) Sunday at the end of July. The swim course starts from Rainbow Park, where there’s plenty of spectators to cheer you on as you launch into the wetsuit legal waters of Alta Lake. By the end of July, the water is normally between 18 and 22°C. So you won’t be too chilly as you complete the two laps (3.8km) around the lake, before heading back to the park and into the transition zone.
- Bike: The bike route is the time to take in the very best views of the Sea to Sky. And you’ll be grateful for the distraction while you’re slogging up all that vertical. The course departs from Rainbow Park, heads down Highway 99 and into the Callaghan Valley. That’s where the big climb up to Whistler Olympic Park begins. At the top though, you’ll be rewarded by stunning vistas on the long cruise back downhill to the highway. And then you’ll head back up to Rainbow park. And then do it all again. In total, there’s an enormous 180km of biking to go before you’re treated to the chance to run a marathon.
- Run: The final section of the Ironman is the 42km run (or walk, or crawl, as the official rules state). Mercifully, it isn’t that hilly. It’s also a two-lap section, that stays pretty close to Whistler village and the cheering, festive crowds. You’ll leave from the Olympic Plaza, head up to Lost Lake, where you’ll run through the beautiful Coastal rainforest. Then the course takes you up to the glacial, bright emerald Green Lake, where you’ll enjoy the best views back over Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. By the time you finish your final lap and head back towards the village, you’ll be surrounded by hoards of locals and visitors, all there to help give that final push to get over the line.
Where to Stay for Ironman
Ironman hits Whistler during the peak summer season. So arrange your accommodation now to be sure of a great deal. Luckily, plenty of the best hotels in Whistler partner with the Ironman. We’d definitely recommend going luxurious for this one. A pool, spa and some fine dining are surely must-haves for after the race. There are plenty of options, so take a look today and book before the crowds. Here are some of our favourites, or check out our full list of the best Whistler accommodation.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
The Fairmont Chateau is luxurious, grand and filled with every amenity you’ll need post-race. The on-site Vida spa is one of the best in Whistler, offering a range of treatments to ease your aching muscles and help you forget the pain of race day. Or, if you’re still feeling invigorated, the Fairmont golf course is world-class, and a great way to enjoy Whistler at a slightly slower pace. Plus there are pools, hot tubs, saunas and daily yoga classes for all your wellness needs.
For the Ironman weekend Friday 26 July – Monday 29 July, rooms start at $474 per night for two people in a Deluxe King Room.
Four Seasons Resort
If you’re looking for the complete package, the Four Seasons Resort is a good place to start. The ultimate in luxury, they really know how to look after their guests. Before your race, you can take advantage of 24-hour fitness suites, classes and spa facilities. And afterwards, why not celebrate at one of their daily wine tastings or end that pre-race diet with a trip to the Sidecut Modern Steak Bar. Or if that sounds like too much effort, there’s luxury in-room dining 24 hours per day. If there were ever a time you deserved that, this is it.
Ironman rooms start at $424 per night for a Superior Room for two adults.
Nita Lake Lodge
Another great choice for a truly Canadian experience is Nita Lake Lodge. On the shores of beautiful Nita Lake, the lodge specializes in wellness, delicious healthy food and showcasing its stunning natural surroundings. Enjoy breakfast on the patio overlooking the lake, or maybe rent a canoe for a quick paddle. You can also enjoy an onsite spa, fitness suite and rooftop hot tub. And for the perfect post-race recovery, rent a free mountain bike and explore Whistler’s valley trail at a more mellow pace.
A Studio Suite for two people starts at $353 per night at Nita Lake Lodge over Ironman weekend.
Other ways to experience Ironman in Whistler
Yeah, we get it, there are plenty of you out there who think running an Ironman is totally crazy. And you might be right. But it’s still a great event to check out, even if the most athletic thing you’ve done all weekend is the walk to brunch.
Spectators at Ironman
Watching the Ironman is a great experience in itself. You’ll get to see world-class athletes compete in one of the most intense competitions in the world. And they’ll be grateful for the support as they push through the last few miles. Get an early start to watch the swim at 5.30am from Rainbow Park. Or line the highway and cheer the bikers as they fly through the course. Or take a trip to Lost Lake Park as they begin the final marathon. Wherever you go, bring your lungs and shout as loud as you can for every athlete that comes past – they’ll love you for it.
Volunteering at Ironman
If you want to really show your appreciation, consider volunteering at Ironman. A literal army of volunteers makes this event possible, from set-up, to transition zones and aid stations, to tearing down the Ironman village after it’s all over. Plus it’s loads of fun to be part of the festival atmosphere of this huge event. And putting a smile on the face of an athlete as you hand them ice-cold water and energy bars make you feel all warm and fuzzy too.
How to Celebrate your Ironman Victory
We suspect there are three things you’ll want to do post-Ironman: eat lots of carbs, have a drink, and start healing those muscles. Here’s what we’d recommend:
- Dinner at Il Caminetto
Whistler’s finest Italian restaurant specialises in authentic flavours and dishes. Treat yourself to some of their rich homemade pasta dishes, artisanal cheeses or local BC seafood. And their wine menu is one of the best in Whistler too, so pair your dinner with a fine wine and you’ll feel a million miles from the race track.
- Cocktails at the Firerock Lounge
For a special after-dinner drink, head to the Firerock Lounge in the Westin Hotel. Their constantly rotating cocktail list is up there with the best, and their knowledgeable bartenders will make you feel right at home. Plus, the quiet, classy atmosphere is perfect for those tired legs and for catching up with your dedicated supporters now it’s all over.
- Relax at Scandinave Spa
You might not be alone in heading to the Scandinave Spa the day after the Ironman. But it will be well worth the trip. With hot pools, cold plunges, saunas, steam rooms and even a yoga studio, it’s the perfect way to start healing. And the views are next-to-none, especially on a hot July day. Take a book, rent a robe and blissfully while away the hours in these unique baths.
Start planning now for Ironman Whistler 2019
One thing is for sure, Ironman is a big deal. For competitors, supporters and spectators alike, it’s worth planning ahead to make the most of this weekend. Book your accommodation, make some travel plans and read up on all the other great activities you can cram into your Ironman weekend in Whistler. You won’t regret it.