As the Subaru Ironman 70.3 Victoria triathlon returns for the first time in 2019, the Saanich Peninsula will once again be in the spotlight for much of the course’s cycling portion.
“The athletes can see a bit of everything (during the cycling portion),” said Tim Dale, race director with the Ironman Group.
Scheduled for May 29, the race sees athletes swim one loop of 1.9 kilometres in Elk Lake, starting and finishing at Hamsterly Beach Park, cycle one loop of 90 kilometres through parts of Saanich, Central Saanich, Sidney and North Saanich, and run two loops totaling 21.1 kilometres around Elk Lake. Dale said close to 2,500 athletes have registered for the race, with anywhere between 2,200 and 2,300 at the start line when the race gets underway.
“For Victoria, it’s a pretty good number,” he said, adding registration is close to sold out.
“The community is excited to see the events in general coming back. It’s great to be back in Victoria and showcase Victoria once again.”
The cycling portion of the race, especially the sections of the Saanich Peninsula, shows off the diversity of the region.
After looping through rural parts of Saanich, the cycling course approaches Sidney through Central Saanich and North Saanich along Lochside Drive. Riders then go through Sidney up Fifth Avenue and Resthaven Drive heading northeast through North Saanich toward the most northern tip of the Saanich Peninsula before heading back south through the Deep Cove neighbourhood, then along West Saanich Road through Brentwood Bay, skirting Butchart Gardens along Wallace Drive, with Willis Point Road serving as a turnaround point for a brief northern jaunt that eventually sees riders head back to Elk Lake along Keating Cross Road and Old Field Road.
Heading up toward Sidney, riders will get views of Haro Strait and depending on the weather, Mount Baker in the distance. “And then they go into the back end of the Saanich Peninsula, where it is quiet, residential (with) a bit of farming,” said Dale.
Dale said this diversity distinguishes Victoria from other races limited to highways and byways because of permitting.
The race itself is also a great tourism opportunity and Dale said organizers have teamed up with Tourism Victoria to offer athletes discounts for various activities to enjoy while checking out the region.
“We really get to showcase the Saanich Peninsula and everything that Victoria has to offer,” he said.
Sidney staff said last month that the event will not require road closures in Sidney because they believe roads to be lightly occupied. According to Sidney staff quoting race organizers, the first cyclists will enter Sidney at around 7:14 a.m. with the last expected to leave at 10:42 a.m.
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