A few weeks ago, Charity and Bryan did their first ever triathlon. They chose the Whistler Half Ironman Race as their target but got antsy leading up to it so decided last minute to also race Ironman Calgary 70.3 one week prior. After they completed both races I asked them for some feedback on both experiences.
This is what they told me:
Swim: In Whistler, the 1/2 event happens on the same day as the Ironman event with the Full Ironman swim happening first. Unfortunately for Charity and Bryan, they had to arrive super early on race day, wait around a bit and watch the “fabulously flat lake” turn quite choppy before their swim started. They also mentioned that the Calgary 70.3 swim was a little bit shorter than their Whistler swim. They spent 7 more minutes in the water at Whistler due to the longer distance and “wildly intense waves and choppiness”. Also, they preferred the self seeded start in Whistler more than the gender wave starts in Calgary although there was still a degree of frenzy at the Whistler start. (I don’t think there is any start system that can completely remove frantic swimming at the start!)
Bike: The Calgary (aka YYC) course is completely flat and can get a bit boring and tiring. It’s also hard to stay motivated and engaged on a course like that. In contrast, in Whistler, what goes up must come down! The uphills were eased by the reality of the down that you’d get later and vice versa. The highway being closed was super lovely in Whistler as well. The bike course was challenging in Whistler, hills and wind made it so and it was also 4k longer than YYC. With the longer, more challenging bike course and conditions in Whistler Charity and Bryan ended up spending 23 more minutes on the bike than in YYC. They had done a bit of hill training at Norquay and it definitely paid off for them . They both agreed that the Whistler hills were completely managable and they really preferred the varied terrain there to the YYC flat prairie ride.
Run: In Whistler they came out with a faster run time than at the Calgary 70.3, by 4 minutes. They really enjoyed the trail parts on the Whistler course with the breaks in the shade. A tough part about the Calgary run was lack of spectator support on both the bike and run courses outside of support near the transition area and at the finish line. After doing the harder bike in Whistler they commented that it felt great to stretch out their hips on the run but they had to slow a bit later due to the sun and heat. Both the YYC and Whistler runs were very hot.
They enjoyed the Calgary 70.3 race as a way to break into the sport but enjoyed the more challening Whistler 70.3 even more and they have no regrets about doing the two races back to back.
Thanks for the feedback guys!