As an Ironman, photographer and veteran Iron-spectator, I thought I would share some photos and thoughts on the new Ironman MontTremblant experience. Every race brings it’s own certain flair and this one pleased. Hopefully these photos will have you considering some French lessons and a trip to Canada next year for this new and exciting Ironman. Here are ten reasons to head up to Quebec for this event.
1. The organization of this event was flawless. Everything was accounted for. The organizer, who is pictured here, seemed calm, cool and collected on race day. He was able to enjoy race day because he delegated well and his team seemed determined to make this race unforgettable. The volunteer Iron crew was huge, 4000 strong ensuring each athlete had everything needed for a successful race.
2. Athletes felt secure on the road here as the locals enthusiastically waited for race day. The roads were impeccable and newly paved. I even saw town officials out the evening before the event cleaning the already clean roads. It seems that every store that I entered in St. Jovite had an employee that had volunteered for race day. Ironman signage was everywhere, making athletes feel welcome and locals feel involved and important.
3. It seems that Ironman Mont-tremblant is determined to be billed as family friendly and generally more fun than other races. The venue of Mont-Tremblant is a good place for families because of its Disneyesque charm, without the annoyingness of Disney. It’s affordable here and you have lots of lodging options. Outside the pricer village hotel area, there are lots of condos around the lake area (that’s what we did). Up in the village, they had a fantastic concert led by a band whose leader was able to inspire even the tightest Type A pre-race triathletes to shake their tail feathers even if just for a few minutes. They followed it up with some really cool fireworks that made the athletes feel kinda special. The fireworks were a great display of color before the athletes had an opportunity to display their own on race-day.
4. Lac Tremblant is crystal clear, warm considering how north it is and wet suit legal. The start of the Ironman was a bit difficult to spectate because of lack of real estate, but the athletes had a nice wide beach to start their adventure from.
5. The bike: The road Chemin Du Plessis, the hilly portion, made you feel like a kid on a roller coaster. I had fun riding it with my son and I can only imagine how much fun it was on race day. Then came the highway 117 and Montee Ryan where the pavement is pristine and like glass with wide shoulders and lots of wiggle room. There should have been no excuse for drafting on this course. ( But I still saw lots of it going on anyway)
6. Let me first apologize to my daughter’s school principal that I once told that we would never need to speak French. I was wrong. While almost everyone in Quebec probably speaks English, French is preferred. This part of Canada doesn’t feel very Canadian. If you want to have a European vacation without the cost, this is your next best thing. Try the Poutine, it looks a bit gross (in my humble opinion)but taste good. At the athlete feeding area, this is the way a Quebecois would deal with salt and fat replenishment after a long day of racing.
7. People aren’t afraid to wear speedos here. At least the one guy in this picture. But despite the guy in the speedo(who's probably faster than you), the athletes here seemed to be cut of from a better cloth. Maybe the course was fast, but the quality of athlete was apparent.
8. You’ll pay up for meals here, but take a trip down to the supermarket in St. Jovite for a fun cultural and label reading experience. Don’t look for bagels here, go for the croissants instead. The little restaurants in town made me feel like I was in Paris.
9. There were tons of spectators that showed enthusiasm like no other; so many that it was a quiet reprieve on the bike trail during the run. Maybe the Canadians are so good at spectating because of their national obsession with hockey. Either way, it took the athletes away from their pain and helped carry them home.
10. The run course was deceptively hard, but not a killer. It was a perfect mix of soft surface bike trail that was totally flat (making it easy on tired legs) combined with a winding hilly section of roads to keep it interesting. The people in Old Mont-Tremblant came out in huge numbers to cheer on the runners. At the end of the day, athletes ran down into the cobble-stoned ski village to finish under a nice finish arch under the clock-tower.