Uwe Lochner flipped through the photos and videos stored on his phone, though sometimes he had trouble getting the images to do what he intended. He had a couple of videos of bears on or near the roads in Whistler, British Columbia, where Lochner traveled to compete in the IronMan Canada.
He paused a bit while looking through photos of a lake with green mountains and blue sky looming in the background. That was the lake where the swimming part of the competition was held, and the view, he said, was inspirational.
“There’s nothing like swimming and every stroke you’re looking up as you breathe and you see mountains around you,” Lochner said. “How could you not want to keep going?”
Lochner was one of 13 members of the Columbia Multisport Club to compete in the July 26 event, which started in Whistler, home of the 2010 Olympic skiing events. Despite having eight competing in their first full IronMan event, CMC took home the trophy as the best Division II club team — the classification for teams without coaches.
Columbia Multisport Club is expecting about 115 members to travel to Chicago for the USA Triathlon Club Championships on Aug. 23-24. CMC has won the national title in its division six times.
“I actually have taken two whole weeks off doing nothing,” said Nancy Yaeger, one of the members making the one-month turnaround, “and kind of eased back into doing stuff toward the end of last week.”
The competition in Whistler was the second IronMan for Yaeger, co-founder of Tiger Endurance Company and hired last month as the coach of the Stephens College cross country team.
Mackenzie Rickman suggested the idea of doing a destination triathlon last fall. Over the course of the next few months, the idea slowly gained converts.
Yaeger was sold on going once she heard Laurie Digges would be competing. Digges was hit by a car while on her bike about a year ago, and IronMan Canada was going to be her return to competition.
“Then I decided I was doing it,” Yaeger said. “I had to be there to help her do her first IronMan.”
Lochner, on the other hand, had wanted an event closer to home. But Wisconsin filled up before he could register, so he decided to join in the party north of the border.
“For us, going anywhere was fun,” said Lochner, one of the newbies, though he had completed multiple half-distance triathlons. “We make it a social event.
“As a first-timer, I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t do that venue again, probably, because of the expense. But I’m not against doing another IronMan somewhere else.”
IronMan triathlons consist of a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and capped off with a full 26.2-mile marathon run. But not all IronMans are created equal.
A swim in the cool water of Whistler’s Alta Lake is different than, say, a swim in the ocean off Florida’s Panama City Beach.
And there aren’t many hills in Missouri that can simulate a bike ride through a ski-resort town that started out on the aptly named Sea-to-Sky Highway.
The riders hit a peak over 2,500 feet in elevation before climbing down onto a 30-mile flat stretch. But the course veered back into the mountains for the home stretch. In total, there was about 6,000 feet of climbing.
“It was very, very hard, but the beauty made it seem not so bad,” Yaeger said. “It was the hardest bike course I’ve ever been on, but it was just absolutely gorgeous.”
The run, a double loop around Green Lake and Lost Lake, wasn’t nearly as formidable, with only about 700 feet of climbing. Much of the marathon winded through the woods, but enthusiastic fans lined the open areas on the final stretch. Lochner said that hearing the fans ahead was impetus to keep going.
“I had so much fun engaging the kids and the volunteers,” Lochner said. “You’d go through an intersection, and there’d be people standing on the sidelines. I’d go through and go, ‘Come on, I can’t hear you!’ Egg them on, because it was fun. I knew I wasn’t going to win anything. I was just out there having fun. Everybody told me, ‘Take it in. Enjoy it.’ ”
That he did. And even just a couple weeks removed from his first outing, Lochner is already looking forward to his second.
“I’ve got the itch to do another one,” he said.