A Pemberton IRONMAN-in-training and his mission for the kids

PPW_Ironmen Gary Martin is my deskmate at my day job. We never carpool, mostly because he’s usually swimming in Rainbow Lake before work or riding his bike home. To Pemberton. When he heard that someone had “won” an IRONMAN Canada entry in a silent auction (“trying to get the bidding started”, can anyone say backfired?), that they had no intention of using, he reached out. They both upped their donation to the Rotary fundraiser cause, and shook on it. Friend was free. Gary was in. Training just went up a notch. Now he’s trying to consume about 5000 calories a day, which is quite dispiriting in a deskmate, frankly, when one has just had a baby and returned to work and hasn’t so much as been to a yoga class in a year and a half… But also ridiculously inspiring, because in addition to his training, he’s joined a crew who are trying to raise $10,000 for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. His wife, Zoé, took on the role of Chief Fundraiser, so we figured we’d do a little Q+A in case you a.) see Gary out training one morning/afternoon/evening/Sunday and b.) want to throw some money at him. For the kids. Because “terminally ill” and “child” are two phrases that just shouldn’t go together.

1. Remind me again. What are the distances these guys are committing to race?

IRONMAN Whistler is a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run. The average time it took to complete the race in 2013 was 12 hours 52 minutes but the winner completed it in an amazing 8 hours 39 minutes.

2. So, how many hours of training does that take, a week?

So far Gary has been training 8.5 hours a week but that is just about to increase!

3. Can you introduce us to these masochistic maniacs who make up the fundraising team?

Ash McMillan and Daryl West are colleagues of mine at Pan Pacific Whistler, Adam Ward is my colleague’s husband and then there’s my husband, Gary Martin.
Ash started young, representing his county and England Schoolboys in swimming as a youth/young adult. Since then he has competed in several half marathons (sub 1hr 20 – coming 7th in last year’s April Fools Half Marathon), and multiple marathons (sub 3hr – coming 18th in last year’s Vancouver marathon in a time of 2hr 45). He has, over the past few years, competed in ultra marathons, Olympic distance and Half Ironman Triathlons, culminating in the Whistler Ironman last August in under 11hrs.
Daryl started running seriously around 5 years ago and has since taken part in a number of half marathons and completed his first full marathon in Chicago in 2013. His first competitive bike ride was also in 2013, the Vancouver-Whistler GranFondo. He is yet to swim competitively, but plans to take part in 3 triathlons prior to the Ironman in July.
Adam played a variety of sports growing up and started mountain biking competitively when he was 13 years old and just three years later he competed in his first triathlon. Over the last few years he has raced twice in the off road Xterra World Championships hosted in Maui and the Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon in Auckland, New Zealand. Locally he has raced in the Squamish Triathlon, Whistler Xterra, Gran Fondo Ride and the Pusher Mitchell Apple Triathlon in Kelowna. Adam competed as a teen in two half Ironmans but this will be his first full Ironman.
Gary has competed in the Vancouver Marathon, Whistler Half Marathon, Squamish Triathlon (Olympic), Banff Triathlon (Olympic), Sooke Half Ironman, Vancouver Half Ironman and Vancouver-Whistler Gran Fondo but this will be his first full Ironman.
Riding the Pemberton Valley IRONMAN training by Gary Martin

4. Apart from sleeping, working, and eating, that training has to take up pretty much all that is left in a day, right? Who has time on top of that to take on an additional challenge, like fundraising? Is it a kind of apology for being so self-absorbed? (To put a fine point on it, whose idea was this? And why?)

It was Daryl’s idea, but that’s also where I come in! Apparently he wanted someone who was organized, had some free time and would also be passionate about raising money for the Canuck Place organization. However, everyone will play a part in getting the word out there and assisting with fundraising events so that we reach, or even exceed, our goal.

5.As the spouse of an IRONMAN, aren’t you “widowed” enough to his training regimen, without taking on additional duties, like raising up to $10,000? What exactly does that represent in cupcakes? (an alternative world currency, much more worthy of attention than the BitCoin)

Most of Gary’s training, to date, has been early in the morning so he gets up and leaves me in bed, so in that respect I have not been affected too much. However, that is about to change as his training program ramps up a notch. (He’s being assisted by Jessica Turner who is devising his training schedules). 

 And $10k would mean baking and selling 4000 cupcakes. I love baking and I love cupcakes but not that much!

And, when you first got hitched to Gary (how many years ago?), what would you have said if a fortune teller had said, one day he will enter the IRONMAN and you will be the Director of Fundraising?

We got together through a mutual love of snowsports 20 years ago and married 13 years ago this July. However, Gary has always loved running and cycling and used to compete in swimming for his local club and county (in the UK) as a youth, so it almost seemed natural that he would eventually start competing in triathlons. An Ironman though? If it hadn’t come to Whistler I don’t think it would have been on his bucket list, but it’s too good an opportunity to miss given that it is taking place in our own backyard!

6.  I spoke with Keats McConigal (Operations Manager) last year and he said, ironically, IRONMAN is more of a team sport than people realise. “When you get to Race Day, you’re on your own, but if you speak with any IRONMAN, they’d all say, I couldn’t have gotten to the start line if it weren’t for the support of my training partners and family.”  Is this fundraiser a way for 5 guys to make it a bit more of a “team” experience? 

Gary will do most of his training on his own as he doesn’t really like the pressure of training with others. He is competing in a few races in the lead up to Ironman and may travel with other people but, ultimately, it is him against the clock. However, he admits that he couldn’t commit to this if it wasn’t for the help and support from the “team” around him – physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, nutritionists, trainers/coaches and me. He likes to bounce ideas off the other three and between them participation in the event is a way to showcase the fundraising efforts and provide greater awareness of Canuck Place.

Swimming at One Mile Lake Pemberton

7. Does the Pan Pacific have some kind of hiring policy that skews towards masochists? 

I’m not sure if it’s a Pan Pacific policy or if it’s just the fact of where we live and the number of great athletes in the Sea-to-Sky corridor that inspires these guys to get out and compete. For Gary, having Ironman in Whistler was a great opportunity that he didn’t want to miss. As for why Canuck Place was chosen, Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre has a suite named Canuck Place Suite and over the past 3 years has donated 10% of the room revenue from this suite to the Hospice, over $25,000. 

8. What is Canuck Place all about? What makes that worthy as a cause to support?

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice offers a comprehensive continuum of care to over 400 children and teens with life-threatening illnesses and their families throughout British Columbia and the program is unique in that it offers world-class health care within a home-like environment.With comfortable surroundings, personalized programs, caring professional staff and dedicated volunteers, it is a place for children and families to come in their time of need. Services include 24/7 physician and nursing support and consultative services, end-of-life care, pain and symptom management, respite care, school, music and play therapy, recreation opportunities and counselling. Canuck Place encourages each child to ‘embrace life’ and believes in enhancing the quality of whatever time a child may have left by empowering them to live fully and joyfully.
Anywhere that is able to offer the best care to ensure that terminally ill children just get to be children is a worthy cause for us to support.

9. I’m pretty sure that every human being on the planet would agree that terminally sick kids just goes against the social order, and they deserve whatever we can do to make their lives easier. So. What fundraisers do you have planned? And what’s coming up next?

Other than baking and selling some Easter cupcakes to my colleagues the only definite event at this time is a Creekbread Fundraiser to be held on Tuesday 10th June. We have got some other ideas in the works, mainly in Whistler, but I am hopeful to get an event in Pemberton too, so that our friends in this community can support Gary and the fundraising efforts.

10. You pretty much just launched your fundraising campaign. How much have you raised already? What’s your goal? 

We started out on 11th March and have a public goal of $10,000, although we hope to exceed that! To date we have raised $2,095 mainly from friends and family but also from a portion of the entry fee into the Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub on St Patricks Day.
If these guys are all mad enough to take part in Ironman, they deserve to be rewarded through donations to the charity of their choice! And 100% of what we raise will be donated to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice as all participants have paid their own entry fees and will pay for their own equipment, training and rehabilitation as they go.

11. How many days to go?

Ironman Whistler is on Sunday 27th July so just over 100. 

And where should people go to support, donate and find out what events/fundraisers are coming up?

We have a Facebook page at which will be updated with our events and the monies raised to date and it has a link to our donation page . We are also on Twitter – @PPWIronmen.

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