Whistler—about two hours from Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia in Canada—is one of our favorite places on earth. Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics, and Whistler was a big part of that. The mountain resort is home of Crankworx, Wanderlust and Ironman Canada, so as you would expect, it’s a popular destination! We’ve spend a few weeks out west over the last few years, as more and and more friends migrate out west and to race Crankworx. After missing the trip out west in 2016 to focus on our wedding, we knew it was a place we wanted to really spend some time in 2017.
Combine that with me feeling somewhat at a loss for a new, fresh athletic challenge, and it boiled down to one thing. Well, not one thing. More like an escalating series of dares.
Two years ago, our friends Greg, Michelle and Amanda started joking with us about the ultimate adventure experience: kick it off with Ironman—2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run—and follow that up with the Wanderlust Yoga Festival, then do Vancouver’s famed SeaWheeze half-marathon, and cap it off by racing cross country mountain bikes and then downhill at Crankworx bike festival. Cram in a ton of hanging with friends, hiking (Grouse Grind FTW!), riding and other ridiculous adventures, and it’s a month of hijinks waiting to happen.
And so we laughed.
But somewhere along the way, the idea started to take root for Peter and I, so much so that we started wondering if we could a) do it, or b) consciously miss out on what could be the craziest, fun-est month ever.
It took a bit of prodding on both of our parts, but we hit the sign up button and committed to Ironman a few weeks ago, and since then, the training plans and scheming have taken on a level of 100 percent we’re-doing-this seriousness. And after a week of van modifying, we’re now well on our way to having a live-able Ford Transit Connect XLT that will be our home base for the month of insanity.
Let’s break it down, shall we? I’m (Molly) a former triathlete—including an Ironman in 2011—and have dabbled in pretty much everything from yoga to cyclocross to XC MTB to road to marathons to shorter distance runs, but really spent a lot of my 20s jumping from discipline to discipline (so for me, this is a pretty excellent challenge because it pumps up my favorite thing—tons of adventure and activities of different types—and combines it). Peter, on the other hand, is a consummate endurance athlete and a total crusher on the mountain bike (and holds the Canadian Leadville record!). But he’s never done a triathlon—so the swim is a challenge, but as someone who describes himself as a lover of all movements, he’s already learned a lot from the few swim sessions he’s done, and the distances for the races won’t be a problem for him!
I’m no stranger to Ironman. In fact, as I crossed the finish line in Louisville back in 2011, I remember very, very clearly vowing to myself, God and my father that I would never do something so stupid ever again.
Boy, was I wrong.
Couple that with Peter’s aversion to swimming, and Ironman is easily the biggest challenge of the month, so it’s probably the ideal situation that it’s the first event. If we can make it through that, we’re going to be fine, right?
It seemed like a bold enough first bucket list race to tackle in this trip, and guarantees that we can’t BS our way through the month. We’re going to need to actively train for this one, not just phone it in, and we have a ton of blog and podcast content coming your way about how our training is going, and on my end, some of the lessons I learned after my first one, and what I’m doing different to prep (a lot).
- Getting Ready: Endurance Training with Elite Endurance Coach Dean Golich and Your Guide to Total Immersion Swimming with Founder Terry Laughlin
- More info: Ironman.com
Wanderlust Yoga Festival
This is going to be a hilarious highlight, since it’s just a couple days after Ironman and we’re going to be stiff, sore and in serious need of some downtime and yoga chill. Thankfully, Wanderlust is in town! So, we’re going to get our Namaste on and enjoy a non-competitive adventure, though I warned Peter that given the rest of our trip, the odds of me trying to outdo someone in a class is pretty high. Still, it should be a great experience since we’re both really into yoga, movement and recovery!
- Getting Ready: Yoga Like a Boss with Erin Taylor of HIT Reset and founder of Jas Yoga
- More info: wanderlust.com
I’m not normally a website-refresh kind of girl, but I’ve heard so much about the Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver that when we started planning this, I knew it had to be included. The only problem? Registration doesn’t have a specific opening date—the Twitter just hints that it will be soon—and I’m pretty stressed that we won’t get in, since it fills up fast. So the race is actually already starting, or at least, the race to click “pay now” is… But I’ve heard amazing things, and what better way to chill out from an Ironman than a half marathon, right? RIGHT?
Crankworks XC MTB Canada Cup
The event that’s brought us to Whistler the last few years: the cross country mountain bike race during Crankworx. This year, it’ll be towards the end of our adventures, but since I’m still a relatively new mountain biker, I know it’s going to challenge me in a totally different way that Ironman will. I don’t often race mountain bikes, and I know the terrain out there can be super tricky—it is at a downhill park, after all!—so I know that’s going to impact how I set up my Ironman training, since I know I need to make sure I’m still including some technical mountain biking so I’m prepared for this and the next challenge.
- Getting Ready: Trying New Skills with Adam Nawrot and Training for MTB with Josh Whitmore (And an upcoming one with Pro XC mechanic Scott Kelly!)
- More info: crankworx.com
Crankworx Canada Cup Open DH
As previously stated, I am a moderate mountain biker on a good day. So, for me the biggest challenge of the month is going to be surviving the Open DH race at Crankworx. Peter should have a great time, but I am moderately terrified, so I guess it balances out his lack of swim experience.
- Getting Ready: How to Get Rad, Jump Your Bike, and be Awesome with Trish Bromley
- More info: crankworx.com
OK, this isn’t technically a scheduled event, but it is timed, so I think we’re going to end the month with a trip up North Vancouver’s famed mountain climb that’s a calf burner and a half. Plus, we have a few friends who will be up for the challenge, so we’ll end on a high note and hang out at the top for a bit, take the gondola down, and move on to the last phase before we hop back in the van and drive East.
- Getting Ready: Why You Should Care About Your Pelvic Floor as an Athlete with Physio Laura Powers
- More info: GrouseMountain.com
Man, we can’t just adventure all the time. The last day in town will be some serious recovery eating at some of Vancouver’s best restaurants!
- Getting Ready: Active Travel for the Consummate Athlete
So what do you guys think? Crazy, amazing, or a little of both? If you have questions, want to get involved, or want to hear more, get in touch! We’ll have a few podcasts coming out, we’ll be planning some Consummate Athlete talks in BC while we’re there, and we’ll both be blogging and Instagramming up a storm (@mollyjhurford and @peterglassford): follow along!