Friday, August 22nd15.5°C

Challenge pro field heats up

A field of male pros will be threatening hometown champion Jeff Symonds' attempt at grabbing back to back titles at this year's Valley First Challenge Penticton Canada.

They include Scott Defilippis from the U.S., who had a strong run time last year to take second place, as well as Adam O'Meara, who finished fourth male overall and is the only other top five 2013 placeholder returning.

Symonds said at a Friday press conference at the Penticton Lakeside Resort that the biggest reason he wanted to sign up was to support the race and the community.

"What really makes this race special is not the big things, but all the little moments," he said. "We need the entire city out to support the race and cheer people on."

When asked if he sees a rivalry starting between himself and Defilippis he said he sees them more as kindred spirits, the guys trying to catch triathlete Andrew Russell.

Strong competitor Russell and Defilippis joined Symonds at the press conference, along with Nathan Champness from Vernon.

Just 40 seconds shy of breaking into the Challenge Penticton top five male finishers in 2013, Champness recently took the men's title in the 32nd Peach Classic Triathlon in Penticton.

The female triathletes on hand were Jenn Annett of Penticton and Carrie Lester from Australia.

Annett said her choice to race Challenge again is simple.

"I really think we have a world-class course," she said. "It's amazing. I have trained every inch of it. We really do live in paradise here. I definitely hear other athletes talk about it too. When you are coming down Main Street to the finish with a huge crowd of spectators and have everyone cheering you on, no matter how much you hurt all the pain seems to disappear."

Annett was the top local female finisher for the inaugural 2013 race, coming in third overall for females in her first race as a professional.

Lester, last year's female winner, posted the fastest marathon for the women and set a course record with a finish time of 9:27:26.

Lester said she loves the town, (Penticton), and the course, and it is really a no brainer for her to come back and see if she can do better.

In addition to having so many top triathletes participating in Sunday's race, Challenge Penticton Canada is also about to make history as it adds a half-distance race to the race experience this year.

Challenge Penticton president Paulette Rennie, who was on hand Friday to welcome the athletes, said the race is the perfect place to introduce a half-iron.

More information is available on the Challenge Penticton website.



Underwear run a big hit

Friday's rain didn't stop people from donning underwear and running for a worthwhile cause in Penticton.

The good turnout was for the Underpants Run, held during the Challenge Penticton Canada festivities.

"It's just a fun and uplifting event where everyone laughs the whole time," said Heather Thompson, a race volunteer from Winnipeg.

Money raised at the event, which includes underwear sales, goes to Bikes for Kids, which supplies bikes to young athletes in the sports of cycling, triathlon, mountain bike and BMX activities, who might otherwise not be able to afford them.

Cal Kellett, the founder of Bikes for Kids, said over the years they have given the bikes away to children's triathlon clubs in the South Okanagan, as well as across Canada.

Last year, they donated three bikes to the BMX Club in Penticton, after it was broken into.

He sees the annual run in the north end of town as a good way for people of all ages to come together and a way for athletes to get rid of stress before Sunday's triathlon.

"It's just fun. A lot of the athletes here have a lot of pent up energy, so it's great to have something that isn't organized. We just run and have a good time," he said.

Dawn Hopkins participated Friday, because she sees the race as a good time for a good cause.

"My granddaughter was awarded one of the bikes last year and started doing triathlons because of the help of this group," she said. "So this is very dear to my heart."

The Underpants Run is just one many activities leading up to Sunday's triathlon.

More information is available on the Challenge Penticton website.

Footgolf comes to valley

The first officially sanctioned footgolf tournament is coming to Skaha Meadows in Penticton Aug 23. 

Footgolf is a fast-growing sport that adds bigger holes to existing golf courses. Instead of a bag of clubs and tees, players wear turf shoes and use a soccer ball. There are typically two footgolf holes per standard-golf hole on participating courses.

The Aug 23 event at Skaha Meadows is a grand opening of the footgolf holes on that course. There are now 12 courses across Canada, and three in BC that have footgolf holes.

"You can call it the first official foot golf tournament in the Okanagan," said Alex Elliott, vice president of Footgolf Canada.

Elliott was raised in the Okanagan where he played soccer for the Pinnacles before moving to the coast and eventually playing in Europe. When he saw it cropping up in Europe, he knew it was something he could take home.

"Whether you toe poke the ball down the course with a beer in your hand or want to take it seriously, there's fun for every skill level." 

All sanctioned events feature footgolfers-only on the course. After the tournament, Skaha Meadows will have specific and separate times for footgolfers to play.

Elliott said it takes a footgolfer approximately half the time to play a round compared to regular golf.

Players wear soccer gear, turf shoes and use a standard soccer ball. "Obviously you don't want to go out onto those nice courses with studs on the bottom," said Elliott. 

Elliott says footgolf is not just a fun activity, it's a fully sanctioned professional sport under the Federation for International Footgolf which features its own World Cup tournament. 

People who want more information can go to 


SAR gear theft


A Penticton and District Search and Rescue member went from being a rescuer to the victim of a crime, this week.

Kurt Hasenkox, who is an active climber and outdoors person, was at the Skaha Bluffs area, between the hours of 6:45 to 8:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 19.

After his hike he returned to the upper parking lot to find his vehicle had been broken into.

Among the valuables removed by thieves were a Garmin GPS, two High Sierra backpacks and other personal items along with his search gear that had been placed in the trunk.

Hasenkox, an active member of PENSAR, estimates that approximately  $1,000 worth of personal items along with all his rescue and survival equipment was taken. The gear that was taken is easily recognizable and includes an orange PENSAR high visibility  Gore Tex jacket, red rescue helmet, red first aid kit and a compass, which all come with PENSAR identification.

The two backpacks carried a range of equipment he uses on search and rescue tasks.

After discovering the theft, Hasenkox contacted the Penticton RCMP who attended and discovered that two other vehicles in the Skaha Bluffs lower parking lot were also broken into.

Since Hasenkox's insurance does not cover the loss, fellow SAR members have set up an online fund to assist him get the basic equpment he needs to get operational again,

PENSAR is asking anyone who sees the stolen equipment or has information on the thefts to contact Penticton RCMP Cst. Chris Knock at (250) 492-4300 or Crime Stoppers.

Advance poll at mall

Penticton council voted this week to have one of its advance polling stations for the upcoming election at the mall.

The decision was reached after Councillor Helena Konanz mentioned it to staff a few weeks ago. It was then placed on Monday's agenda.

"I had heard that Kelowna was putting one in their mall, and I thought that was a great idea, to make it public so it becomes something the general public can do while shopping," she said.

Konanz further believes having the station at that location will get more young people out to vote.

The 2014 General Election is scheduled this year, with general voting day set provincially on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Legislation requires municipalities offer a minimum of two advance voting days, where voters can attend before general voting day to cast their ballot.

One of those days has been set for City Hall to enable access for citizens in the north end of town, and two locations were presented to council for residents in the south end.

Cherry Lane Shopping Centre was subsequently selected to be the location of the advance poll on Nov. 6.

Following another suggestion by Konanz, council also approved the allowance of free fares for anyone traveling to vote by public transit.

Konanz wants the word to get out that this is happening.

"It's really important to let people know or it won't be a constructive change," she said. "I am hoping signs go up on busses or in the mall, that there will be a polling station at the mall."

Terrorist acts in the 1950s

The Okanagan Valley has seen its fair share of crime over the years, but one of the more violent chapters in its history was in the late 1950s.

BC newspapers during that period were filled with stories of terrorist acts thought to be committed by the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors. 

Starting in the 1920s, that sect of Doukhobors fought for peace with bombs and arson and by taking part in defiant naked public marches. Their targets were schools, government buildings and other sects.

In the Okanagan, the year of 1958 was a particularly volatile period.

According to stories in the Penticton Herald, provided by the Penticton Museum, and The Columbian in New Westminster on Aug. 14, that year, terrorists struck again on three fronts in the troubled valley.

Bombs exploded in Oliver, Osoyoos and Vernon, with post offices the targets in the South Okanagan. A business building was also damaged in Vernon.

The most damage was at the Osoyoos post office, where the blast around 3:15 a.m., tore out a large section of the front wall between the main door and the night door on the south side of the building facing the main street.

Around 45 minutes later, a time-bomb placed in the outdoor letter drop at the Oliver post office blew a hole in the floor, causing extensive damage to the interior of the building.

At the same time as the Oliver blast, the Vernon building was shaken by an explosion. Doors in the building, situated near the CPR-CNR station, were blown open and windows shattered.

No one was hurt in any of the explosions.

They also took place one day before five young Freedomites were due to be committed for trial on charges of conspiring to cause explosions.

Their arrests followed exhaustive RCMP investigations of previous explosions in the Okanagan late in June.

Then on Aug. 18, police believed they had uncovered an illicit bomb factory in the hills near Kelowna as the result of a premature explosion in which one member of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor sect was killed and another severely injured.

The body of Philip Pereveresoff of Winlaw, a known member of the Sons of Freedom, was thrown about 20 feet from where he was making the bomb on a lonely mountain road near McKinley's Landing, eight miles north of Kelowna.

Police said they established at the time that the bomb actually went off a few hours before the bombs exploded in post offices in Oliver and Osoyoos and the building in Vernon. That explosion ended the attempt to make more bombs to be used in Kelowna that same night.

The unrest continued into later decades. In 1962, protesting the arrest and jailing of many of their supporters for arson and bombing, Freedomites from the southeastern BC town of Krestova trekked into Vancouver to raise public awareness of their situation. As a result of human rights-based concern about their treatment by government, the BC Civil Liberties Association is launched.

In the 1980s, representatives of various Doukhobor groups and different government departments and police came together for a collective airing of grievances and long unsettled frustrations.

The Doukhobors, who originally came to Canada to escape religious persecution in Russia, are today active pacifists, who aspire to preserve their traditional values.


Altercation on the picket line

Tensions appear to be heating up in an on-going labour dispute in Naramata.

Police in Penticton are investigating allegations of verbal and physical threats made towards picketing CUPE workers by a Naramata Centre manager.

According to CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer, Paul Faoro, the incident occurred Monday evening on the picket line.

He says CUPE is "extremely troubled" by reports of a manager's aggressive and threatening behaviour on the picket line outside the United Church's Naramata Centre.

"According to witnesses, verbal and physical threats were made against striking CUPE members and this is totally unacceptable", says Faoro.

"The safety of our members and their families and supporters on the picket line is paramount and we will do whatever it takes to legally protect them."

A union tent used by striking members was damaged during the incident.

CUPE members have been on strike at the centre since May.

It says management tensions have risen during the labour dispute.

"No one should be afraid to exercise their legal right to strike," says CUPE national president, Paul Moist.

He says CUPE will be seeking assurances from the United Church that its 627,000 members across the country will be safe from threats and harassment on the picket line.

Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News


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