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Triathlon unveils Big Balls

The press release said it all - well, sort of.

Kelowna media were invited to a news conference where a new apple variety was being introduced that would make its debut at this year's Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon Kelowna.

The event was held at the Laurel Packinghouse and co-sponsored by the BC Fruit Growers' Association.

The new apple variety?

It is called the "BrightStar," an apple so large BCFGA President, Fred Steele said you couldn't eat one by yourself.

Turns out, it isn't even edible.

It's highly visible, tough and has an extended shelf life.

It's also about two metres in diameter.

"This new variety is unique and produced in very limited quantities," said Steele.

"Like other apples, it floats in water so it will be used as a buoy to mark the swim course in the Apple Triathlon."

Triathlon president, Richard Montgomery, says six of these large, yellow, inflatable round markers, have been purchased to help triathletes navigate the swim portion of the triathlon.

This year's edition of Apple, the 32nd annual, will be held Aug 15 to 17.

According to Montgomery, some 1,500 athletes are expected to participate over the course of the weekend.

The main race Sunday has been sanctioned as the BC Championship for the Olympic distance and the National Championship for the sprint distance which is half the distance of an Olympic triathlon.

Also, with the world championships set for Edmonton two weeks after the Apple, Montgomery says Sunday's elite race will be competed in the sprint distance.

He says that will give athletes competing in the world championships a shorter race leading up to Edmonton.

Montgomery expects a large international field at the Apple because the world championships are so close and believes many of those competitors could decide to stay in the Okanagan to train prior to leaving for Edmonton.

With triathlon debuting as a sport at the Paralympics in Brazil in two years, the Apple will feature a Para-Triathlon on Saturday.

Montgomery says Kelowna will be one of four Para-Triathlons in North America this year. The United States, Great Britain and Australia have all confirmed they will be sending teams to compete in the Para-Triathlon.

Meantime, Montgomery says about 1,000 volunteers will be needed to put on this year's Apple Triathlon.

A sign up website for volunteers is expected to be up and running within the next two weeks.

Over the years the triathlon has been forced to scramble over the final few weeks in order to get enough volunteers to hold the race.

Montgomery says all events in different cities struggle to get volunteers.

More information on the volunteer website and additional enticements will be made available soon.

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