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Challenge races to change

Penticton Mayor Garry Litke says a recent announcement that new organizers are being sought for Challenge Penticton Canada, doesn't mean it's in trouble.

The 2014 race will be better than last year's and this change is part of the evolution of the race, he said.

"We have been having discussions with the race society, which is the board of directors, and were in unanimous agreement this would be a desirable change," he said. "We are just trying to make it a more efficient and streamlined operation."

The Penticton Triathlon Race Society was the model put together in order to begin the race, which they were essentially starting from scratch, because Ironman took all their records with them when they left, said the mayor.

He said he was grateful this board stepped in, but it was just not sustainable.

"It's a million dollar triathlon and they are running it in addition to their full-time jobs, bless their hearts," he said.

The city has a license to operate a Challenge Family race and assigned the responsibility to organize and operate it to the society through a legal assignment.

The society continues to be involved in organizing the 2014 race and has agreed to assist with any transition required as of Aug. 26, 2014, the registration date after the 2014 race.

Paulette Rennie, president of the society, said she believes that a review of the business model responsible for a million dollar race is healthy and beneficial for all involved.

"The ideal operating model will see an individual or private entity with a vested interest lead this race to its maximum potential. This entity will understand the value and importance this race brings to our community and the communities of the South Okanagan and will eat, breath and sleep Challenge Penticton Canada," she said.

According to figures recently released by the society, the total number of athletes participating in last year's inaugural race was 920.

Litke said they are pretty close to that number now, and further ahead with registration than they were at this time last year.

He expects it will be 2015 or 2016 before they have the numbers to break even. He did not have an estimated number for that.

The event lost $377,000 in its first year.

"We took this on as a five year plan, and this race is no exception," he said. 

The model of Roth,  Germany is always at the forefront. It has been in business for more than 30 years, with the new model of allowing relays and staggered starts, it has grown much bigger than Ironman could ever become, said Litke.

His hope is that with new organizers, they can grow it to the size of the Roth triathlon, which had around 5,700 athletes participating in 2013.

The organizers being sought by the city would be community minded proponents with the necessary qualifications to build on the success of the race, ensuring that the Challenge philosophy of putting athletes first continues.

Challenge Penticton Canada builds upon a 32-year history of running long distance triathlons, which became part of the global series of full, relay and half triathlons within the Challenge Family in 2013.

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