IRONMAN 70.3 Mont-Tremblant - 2019 Course Preview
From Matt Dixon
This course is one of the best venues I have ever seen for a race, and it is a special course, town, and community. A privilege to race here. The course itself has many dynamic features, but I will highlight some of the key points.
First, the swim is beautiful in its simplicity but prepare yourself for a 400-500 meter transition run into T1.
Hitting the bike, there is much opportunity for the stronger riders to exploit the toughness of the course. Steady Kona-esque rollers in the initial 35-40 miles, which provide some challenge and potential wind, where many will fall into the trap of riding too hard in this section. The key piece of the course is the last 10 miles, with the big rollers that are too steep to roll into fast and hard. Instead, these rollers are to be managed and will create a challenge coming at the back of the race and right before the run.
The run is fantastic, with plenty of terrain that reminds me of some other races such as Kansas, (the classic) Vineman, Muncie, and Raleigh . The special piece of the run comes at the end when you climb into the ski village and scream down the cobbled streets to the finish. Tough but not too tough. All in all, very special.
From Purple Patch Pro, Sarah Piampiano
From an overall perspective on the 70.3, I would encourage people to be really aggressive throughout the race. It is challenging, and it can be difficult with some really tough pieces, but it’s also a race that I think rewards athletes who are willing to be aggressive and take chances.
The swim is very calm with perfect conditions, so you can go for it.
On the bike, yes, it’s rolling, but there’s plenty of opportunity to gain free speed. If you ride the rollers really, really well, you’re going to make up a lot of time. I don’t think that people should be nervous about the course or the fact that there are some challenges to it.
The same thing goes for the run. Even though it is rolling, there is opportunity to find a rhythm and go for it. So, the biggest piece of advice I can give on this 70.3 is to be aggressive.
It’s going to vary. That’s the beauty of the East Coast. There’s a big joke that says, “Wait ten minutes and the weather will change.” Mont-Tremblant is not in Northern Canada, but it is in the North. All Athletes should go to Mont Tremblant prepared for any type of weather.
Purplepatch Pro, Sarah Piampiano, is from Maine, and she has seen snow in August before. She says it’s not out of the realm of possibility for it to be a really cold and rainy or windy day in the 50’s. There’s also a possibility of a sunny day with no humidity, 75 degrees, and the most perfect day imaginable. On the other hand, it could be 90 degrees with 100% humidity, feeling like you’re in the Deep South somewhere.
You really don’t know what you’re going to get, so come prepared for an array of weather scenarios. If it’s hot, concentrate on keeping your core temperature cool.
Course Cut-Off Times
1 hour and 10 minutes after their start
5 hours and 30 minutes, including the swim
10:45 AM: At the turn around in Labelle on the 117 road
11:30 AM: 52 km on the bike course
12:25 PM: 71.8 km on the bike course, entering Chemin Duplessis at the corner of Quarte-Sommets
8 hours and 30 minutes, including swim and bike
1:30 PM: to exit the transition to start the run course
Finish Line Cut-Off
The race will officially end 8 hours and 30 minutes after the final swimmers start.
Friday, June 21, 2019: 12:00 - 5:00 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2019: 12:00 - 5:00 PM
No athlete check-in on Sunday
Location: Quartier Tremblant/Base Camp
Mandatory Athlete Briefing
Saturday, June 22, 2019: 2:00 or 4:00 PM
Location: Quartier Tremblant/Base Camp
Mandatory Bike Check-in
Saturday June 22, 1019: 1:30 - 5:30 PM
Location: IRONMAN Village - Transition Zone
Race Day: Sunday, Jun 23, 2019
Body Marking and Gear Check-in
Sunday, June 23, 2019: 5:15 - 6:30 AM
Location: IRONMAN Village - Transition Zone. Body Marking at Sportium Stage
Shuttle Bus Service
5:00 AM - 8:00 PM: Post race shuttles from Tremblant Resort and IRONMAN parking lot (sublect to change)
Official Race Start
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Location: Beach and Tennis Club - Swim Start
7:00 AM: Pro Men Start
7:05 AM: Pro Women Start
7:06 AM: IMXC Start
7:10 AM: All Age Group Rolling Start
PRE RACE TIPS
With the large temperature swings of the heat in the middle of the day to cool nights, it is worth removing some of your air in your tires when you rack your bike the night before the race.
Race morning pump your tires to your race pressure. This will reduce the risk of pressure-related blowouts when the bike is racked the day prior.
Pre-Race Tips from Matt Dixon
Don’t forget to warm up. One of the biggest mistakes I see is the lack of a warm-up prior to the swim. At any distance, a lack of warm-up is a performance inhibitor for many athletes (pros and all the way down).
Set up transition: arrive with lots of time to spare.
Running warm-up: 10-15 minutes of very easy jogging. When return have a little fuel and hydration.
Check transition and put on the wetsuit: final preps, kiss your family, friends, dogs, and teammates.
Swim warm-up: check the course buoys one more time then go:
3-5 min easy swimming then:
30 sec moderate
30 sec smooth
20 sec strong
30 sec smooth
10 sec V strong
30 sec smooth
20 sec strong
30 sec smooth
30 sec moderate
Can go through twice if you wish!
Ready to race.
1.2 miles/1.9 km
The average water temperature on race day ranges from will be 65 F/ 18 C. Wetsuit legal.
Self-Seed Rolling Start
Age-group athletes will be asked to self-seed
Athletes will start the 1.2-mile swim on the golden sands of the Beach and Tennis Club, right beside the Tremblant pedestrian village.
As athletes swim the 1.2-mile loop, they will enjoy the view of the sheltering mountains around this lovely, pristine lake.
Lake Tremblant is a clean freshwater lake, with relatively calm waters at this time of the year.
The exit will be on the new bridge of the Bird Observatory located at the corner of Chemin des Voyageurs and Chemin de la Chapelle.
Allow for a 10-minute walk to reach the start at the Beach and Tennis Club from the transition area.
The swim start and the swim exit are in two different locations.
The swim exit is in a bit of a narrow inlet of the lake, so it definitely makes sense before the race to be able to go out into the water and swim out past that inlet. Once you’re out there, turn around and get some sighting points. It is really important to do this because you can’t really see the Swim Finish when you are at the far turn buoys out in the water.
Swim Gear Tip
Tinted goggles is the way to go. The sun is to your right as you swim out and to your left as you swim back.
For most amateurs, drafting is overrated, as the person you are following is likely as poor as you at sighting. Focus on your output, swimming straight, then tuck into a nice draft IF there is an opportunity.
Swim Tips from Matt Dixon
The swim itself is simple and lovely water. Just be sure to know the course and preview it prior to race start. You can absolutely use the terrain and landmarks to help find the buoys to keep you on track.
Don’t forget to sight! Every 6th stroke is the key. Really important and much more important than trying to get into drafting.
As with every race, don’t begin at max effort. Focus on a controlled and smooth start, and ensure you swim in a straight line.
Swim Tips from Sarah Piampiano
The swim, as a whole, is a really beautiful swim. The lake is very clean and very clear. I would say it’s probably the perfect water temperature – in the range between 65 – 70 degrees, so it is going to be wetsuit legal, but you’re not going to be overheating in your wetsuit.
It’s typically cool at Mont-Tremblant in the mornings. So, from my perspective, it’s really an ideal swim.
It tends to be pretty calm and flat, and it’s also wide open, so there’s plenty of room. You don’t need to be clumped together with other swimmers if you don’t want to be, so it’s a really wonderful swim venue.
Transition is located between the swim exit and is actually quite long. So, it is an opportunity to make up lost time from the swim as well as to find your legs before you get on the bike.
Just know that it’s going to be 400 – 500 meters long, and you should use that time to prepare yourself to get on the bike. There’s carpeting down over the brick sidewalk when you come out of the water, but it’s totally fine (you don’t need your shoes).
56 miles/90 km, 1 loop
Bike Course Overview
Nature lovers will be amazed by the beauty of the original IRONMAN bike course, which runs largely through forests and mountains. The ride features gorgeous natural landscapes with two beautiful rivers that will let you fully enjoy this beautiful part of the province.
Cyclists will begin their journey on Montée Ryan to reach Route 117 and, after entering downtown Ville de Mont-Tremblant for a turn-around, they will find themselves back on Montée Ryan and Chemin des Voyageurs, passing the Tremblant Resort and going towards the Municipality of Lac Supérieur on Chemin Duplessis. Before long, athletes will face the most challenging elevation change of the circuit with a maximum grade of 8% and beautiful descents on the way back where they can reach speeds of 60 km per hour, a little rest on the legs before reaching transition for the run course.
Bike Course Nutrition at Aid Stations
Electrolyte drink, water, bananas, Gu Gels, BASE Bar
Bike Tips from Matt Dixon
For most amateurs, management of the course is hugely important, especially as the back section of the course is the most challenging
You shouldn’t charge the grades. Stronger riders can ride sustained strong efforts on the rollers, but the key is that any time the terrain transitions toward flatter grades, you should speed up
Don’t make the mistake of this course being attack with massive cardiovascular effort. You must shift the load to the muscles and rely on some bigger gear work.
Athletes often forget to fuel and hydrate. Do that on this course, you will be punished. 3-4 kcal/kg/hour of fuel, 10 - 12 ml/kg/hour of hydration (from heavily diluted source of appropriate hydration) is a good rule of thumb. You should be fueling, in small ‘bites’, every 7 to 12 minutes, not every 30 to 45 minutes.
Bike Tips from Sarah Piampiano
The bike is challenging, but it’s also a fair and wonderful course. You start out and it’s a bit rolling. It continues to be rolling for most of the first forty miles or so. Where you hit the most challenging part is at the end, which is the last twelve miles where it continues to be hilly, but the rollers are pretty sharp and steep, and you’ve got to tactically approach those.
I would set the bike up into four discrete parts:
The first is coming out of transition (10 miles?), and you’re descending down the access road, which is called Montée Ryan.
In that first 6-8 miles, you are descending (the overall elevation change is negative), but that section is rolling. That is something I mentally struggled with when I was first riding the course because I was expecting it to be this great opportunity to just coast all the way down to the bottom of the access road. Because it’s more rolling than you would expect, you need to be able to mentally get your head around that. But I also think it provides a really good opportunity to find your bike legs for the next part of the course.
My advice is to use the opportunity you have on the uphill segments of those rollers to stand out of the saddle or do whatever you need to do to find your legs and allow yourself to get into a good rhythm because, as we all know, sometimes when you come out of the water it takes a little while (sometimes five or ten miles) to find your bike legs and be able to go. I do think that if you can expect and anticipate that it’s going to be a little bit more rolling, you can use that to your advantage to get yourself into a good spot.
Then as you move onto the second section of the bike course, which I believe is about twelve miles out or so, you’re on a highway, so it’s wide open.
Like most highways it is rolling, but the gradients are very gradual, the climbs are a little bit longer, and you can ride in aero the entire time on that highway. My experience, though, has been that typically there would be a head wind or a tail wind one way and the other.
The third section is a very short section. It’s a small out-and-back into the town that’s at the base of the access road.
There’s nothing really special about it, but it does kind of break up your rhythm. It tends to be very crowded from a spectator standpoint, which kind of makes it fun because it brings some energy back to the ride, and kind of breaks it up a little bit.
I would use that section to do what you need to do to prepare for the last part of the course, which is really the hardest part. Stretch your back, get up out of the saddle, eat some food, drink some water or sports drink. Just take the opportunity to prepare yourself for the next section of the bike.
Coming out of that you’re going to head back up onto the access road, which is another 10K, and I think that section, even though you’re climbing, it’s a really good section just to get into a rhythm. The overall grade is really not that steep. You can just get into aero position and go.
Once you get to the top of the access road, you’re going to take a right and go into the last piece of the course.
It’s an out-and-back. That’s a section where I think a lot of time can be made up. It’s very rolling. Some of the small hills are anywhere from 100 – 300 meters long but they can be steep (upward from 10 – 12%). Try to ride that section as strategically and tactically as best as you can. You need to work on your climbing skills and be able to get out of the saddle to get the most power out of your bike, all without completely destroying your legs.
The key is to be able to get off and then run well. Since that section is a difficult section and there’s a lot of steep sections, followed by some down-hills, followed by more steep sections, it can have an impact on your legs. Strategically and tactically riding this section well will be important.
The great thing about that out-and-back final bike section is that although it is the hardest part, you then turn around and get the benefit of being able to go down all of those steep hills that you just climbed.
The back section is much faster than the way out. I would use that opportunity to prepare for the run: spin your legs, continue to have tension on the chain, but increase your cadence. Just use it as an opportunity to really get the blood flowing and start preparing your legs in whatever way you need to. You’re not going to lose a lot of time because there are a lot of downhill, so I think it’s set up quite well to help you on the run.
Highway Section Tip
Look at the winds beforehand, you should figure out which direction they are blowing. You should anticipate that. On the way out it tends to be a little bit more uphill and on the way back it tends to be a little bit more downhill, but it is wide open and it’s really good road (the kind of a road that you enjoy riding on) because you can just get into aero, find your rhythm and go.
Bike Wind Tip
You are going to experience the most wind is on the highway section (12 miles out, and 12 miles back). Most of the ride is on protected roads, so unless it’s an extremely windy day, you shouldn’t expect to be impacted by any type of winds except on the highway. Of course it’s going to depend on the weather on a day-to-day basis, but you should expect some wind out there on the highway.
13.1 miles/21.1 km
Run Course Overview
The one-loop, 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run course is known for its scenic beauty. As athletes exit the transition zone, they will go toward the Lac Tremblant and make a left on Chemin de la Chapelle to reach the Chemin du Village, athletes will head towards Intrawest Club and will continue to cross the picturesque Mont-Tremblant Old Village and continue on towards Lac Mercier.
Then the athletes will have the opportunity to run on the famous "Le P’tit Train du Nord", a former railway bed that is now the longest linear park in Canada, and then return to the Mont-Tremblant Old Village, heading back towards Chemin du Village. The road will take runners past a waterfall, alongside beautiful Tremblant Lake and finally, back to the finish line in the Tremblant Resort. The finish line is at the bottom of the Cabriolet at the Chalet des Voyageurs.
Run Course Nutrition at Aid Stations
Electrolyte drink, water, Cola, GU Gels, BASE Bars, Pretzels, fruits
Run Tips from Matt Dixon
I like athletes to think ‘form’ and ‘foot speed’ when in races, but this course mantra should be ‘storm the downhills’. Lots of climbing in this course, but this is to be managed, as most speed gains can be made on the flatter and downhills.
As mentioned in the mantra, the downhills are the key to success. You have to maintain foot speed throughout this course, and prevent yourself from surging too much on the grades up.
The only time to truly push the uphill is when you come back into town and climb up into the village, as it is all downhill to the finish.
Run Tips from Sarah Piampiano
Like the bike, it’s a rolling run. It’s not easy, it’s definitely a fair run. There’s a pretty hard hill right off the bat out of Transition, and you just kind of roll your way through the 13 miles.
There’s a section of the run that starts out on a paved road, kind of winding your way around Mont-Tremblant, and it’s rolling, and I think it’s a good section to find your legs and get into your rhythm.
Then you hit this carriage trail which has soft ground with really loose gravel. It’s actually perfect for running. You think it’s going to be flat, but actually (I can’t quite figure it out) it feels like you’re going uphill in both directions. It ends up being a much slower section than you would anticipate with a slight grade downhill on the way out, and slight uphill on the way back. I actually found that section to be the most challenging part of the run course. I think mostly because in your mind you think that it’s going to be faster on the way out, and it ends up not being that way.
But it’s beautiful and there are plenty of opportunities. There are two out-and-back sections. One of them is on that Carriage Trail and the other one on a little bit different carriage trail. So, there’s plenty of opportunity to see your competition, and gauge where you are in your race.
It’s a rolling, deceptively challenging run. You come out of T2; take a left turn and probably about 400 meters into the run there’s a very steep uphill that’s probably 150 – 200 meters long. And it’s tough. It catches you because you don’t have your run legs yet and you’re just coming out of transition, so your heart rate is higher and you haven’t settled into your pace yet. It makes that first section a little bit hard. But once you’re past that initial hill, it does continue to be rolling, but the hills are much more gradual and much easier to maintain a pace and hold a rhythm.
Knowing that you’ve got that steep hill out of transition, I would say try to manage that as best as you can and once you’re over that hill, work in terms of trying to find your rhythm.
Once you’re on that carriage trail, again, it’s definitely slower than you’d expect, so focus primarily on having fast feet and good turnover and really good form. I think because it is a little bit softer, it is going to be slower, so the faster turnover you can be useful.
Sarah Piampiano’s Final Thoughts
Mont-Tremblant is probably the best overall race that I’ve ever seen put on. There’s real heart and soul that goes into putting the race together by the race directors, and all the people in the town and the volunteers, and they try to make it not just an experience for the athletes, but an experience for everyone participating – so, the spectators and families and kids.
The community of Mont-Tremblant embraces the race and the athletes wholeheartedly and I think there’s a lot of pride in being able to show off their region and the Canadian culture that is there. It’s just a really special environment.
Matt Dixon’s Final Thoughts
Focus on the process not outcome.
Triathlons can elicit monkey brain. You may start asking yourself a lot of questions during the race, and lose focus on the immediate task at hand. Controlling that attention and focus is part of the challenge and the fun.
Don't evaluate too early. Many athletes start evaluating their performances before they finish the race and leave some potential strewn across the course. Triathlons require you to remain focused on execution and process, without a thought of the outcome during the race. Save your race evaluation for the recovery tent.
Fueling: Check in with yourself throughout the race and continually assess your calories and hydration intake. It may be hot this year, so think about that when you are planning your hydration and remember calories every 10-15 minutes. If your mood starts to drop, it is likely calories.
Pacing: Managing your effort, gearing, and pacing in each part of the race.
Form: Staying supple on the bike, good tension on the chain, running tall on the run with good foot-speed. Basically, all the things we have talked about so far!
Don’t let the support, terrain and spirit of this course deceive you. It is a wonderful race, so go have fun and embrace it.
Best of luck, we will see you on the course.
Course photos: IRONMAN