Each year a small handful of Nelson’s triathlete community take on the daunting challenge of competing in Subaru Ironman Canada, an annual event held on the last Sunday in August in Penticton.
This year local athletes Kim Irving, and the daughter-father duo of Danica and Peter Lee, have been training for the past year to prepare for the Ironman competition and competing in what has been hailed as the “toughest single day endurance event in the world.”
Ironman triathlon is one of the most gruelling events in the world of sport, and also one of the most inspiring. Ironman features a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and 42.2 km run, all in the same day. Athletes are allowed up to 17 hours to complete the event (from the 7 a.m. start until midnight).
Training for the Ironman or iron-distance triathlon requires preparing for long-distance competition in three events. Training can take several years of aerobic base training before a triathlete is prepared to safely compete at Iron-distance events.
Hawaii is the birthplace of the Ironman distance and Kona, Hawaii is home to the world championships. Ironman began as a challenge between about 12 Navy Seals who wanted to find out who the fittest athlete was; a swimmer, a biker or a runner. So they decided to put all three sports together and go long.
Penticton is the home to Subaru Ironman Canada, which first ran in 1983 with a field of 23 athletes, including only one woman.
In 1985, Nelson’s very own Sharon Best was the first woman finisher with a time of 11:45:49.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Subaru Ironman Canada is the oldest Ironman race in continental North America and continues to be regarded as one of the best due to its classic course, history and community support. It is also considered most popular of the 28 Ironman events held worldwide each year.
The athletes racing Ironman will have the aid of a group of more than 4,000 community volunteers that has become known over the years as the Iron Army. These volunteers come out every year to provide race support, encouragement and hospitality to the athletes and make the experience very special. The mass of volunteers are what makes this incredible event possible.
Irving, Danica and Peter also each give back to the sport locally. While Irving is a volunteer director on the Nelson Cyswog’N’Fun Triathlon board, both Danica and Peter are volunteer coaches with the Mountain Spirit Triathlon Club.
Competing alongside Irving, Danica and Peter at Subaru Ironman Canada on August 26 this year is a field of 2,600 athletes representing each of the 10 Canadian provinces, 44 US states and 25 countries. All with the goal of crossing the finish line well before midnight to earn the lofty title of “Ironman.”
As these hard working Nelson triathletes — and all triathletes — know, “anything is possible.”