BY BILL PHILLIPS
Brian Martinson knows what it’s like to compete in the Prince George Iceman. In fact, he probably knows more about the event than anyone else in the city. He has been involved in the Prince George Iceman since before the inaugural event in 1988.
“In 1987 the city was looking for events to coincide with the 1988 Calgary Olympics,” he said. “I was the school district liaison to that. This was kind of a separate thing, dreamed up by some triathletes … What we have now isn’t the original.”
The original was a “crazy” event out at Tabor Mountain.
“The first year it was about -27 degrees,” he said. “We would have never done it now. It was a clear, sunny day. There might have been 12-15 individuals and eight or 10 teams. There might have been 50 or 60 people.”
The second year of the event, the temperature was probably 10 degrees and some runners were in the shorts. It has been cancelled a couple of times because of cold weather. While the first event had about 50 competitors, now there are more than 500.
The skate, which is done on the Ice Oval, is particularly susceptible to warmer weather. There have been a few years where the skate has been cancelled because of the warmth.
“One year we had a little chicane (on the course),” he said. “I got really warm and we had a pothole so we had a little ‘S’ turn you had to negotiate to get around the corner.”
A couple of years the skate moved indoors to the Elkscentre.
The oval also used to be in the CN Centre parking lot before it moved to its permanent location behind CN Centre. The Aquatic Centre helped as well as prior to its construction, the course including going down 15th Avenue to the Four Seasons Pool for the swim.
Martinson was 29 years old when he competing in the first Iceman and is still competing.
“For the first 22 or 23 years I did it solo, and then age caught up with me a little bit. I’ve done team competition for the past 10 or 12 years.
Now his team involves his daughter, so it’s a family affair.
“She does the running and I do the ski, skate, and swim,” he said.
While Martinson might not be competing solo anymore, his efforts are still pretty impressive. The Prince George Iceman is an eight-kilometre cross-country ski at the Otway Nordic Centre, followed by a 10-kilometre run to the Prince George Ice Oval where a five-kilometre skate is in order, followed by another five-kilometre run and then an 800-metre swim at the Prince George Aquatic Centre.
“I like to do as much as I can, but that’s enough,” he said.
Martinson encourages everyone in the community to take in the Iceman on February 10, either competing as a spectator.
“At least come out and watch and see what it’s all about,” he said. “(If you compete) this is the most fun thing you’re going to do in the winter and there’s different events, so there’s probably something you can do.”
If you’re looking to compete in the event, or volunteer to help out, the best way is through their website: