Penticton and South Okanagan
Triathlon festivities start with parade
Aug 22, 2013 / 11:42 am
Challenge Penticton, Canada organizers promised from the start that the event would be family and community oriented.
The opening day of the festivities, proved to be just that.
Late Wednesday afternoon, a parade featuring pro athletes, local sports teams, outdoor groups, city staff, other athletes, fire trucks and much more made its way down Lakeshore Drive to Gyro Park.
"The parade is the first official function, and I think when a lot of people see this, they will be happy it's here and excited to be a part of it in future years," said Councillor Andrew Jakubeit.
Challenge Penticton, Canada replaced the long existing Ironman Canada event last year. The inaugural triathlon is set for Sunday, with several activities and an expo at Gyro Park leading up to it.
The Tribute to Sport and Athlete's Parade kicked off on the west end of Lakeshore Drive and made its way to Gyro Park, where the festivities continued at the park with a party and BBQ.
Pro athletes were behind the wheels of cars, while others walked the parade route carrying flags and waving to eager people who sat on the sidewalk or beach.
Jamie Whyte, a pro from New Zealand, who has raced a dozen Challenge races, drove in one of the lead cars.
He said he was looking forward to winning the race and being part of the festivities.
"The course is fantastic, and the weather is great here," he said
Pro Elmar Heger, who is originally from Germany, but now lives in Calgary, said he watched Ironman here for the last two years, but as soon as they announced it would be a Challenge race last summer he wanted to do it.
"I did Ironman races, but I stick now with Challenge runs," he said. "Especially in Europe you see the same people. It is like a circus travelling from race to race."
Pro Jeff Symonds from Penticton believes with the race being a new company, it has galvanized the town.
"Everyone wants to do their part to make it successful, and I feel I am doing my part to make sure it sticks around," he said, as he readied to ride in the parade.
Ellis Andrews, a Penticton athlete, who showed up draped in a Canadian flag, believes the new event is off to a positive start.
"A parade is a great way to start the festivities. It shows things are starting to happen," he said. "It's all very exciting, and the fact they are allowing teams, gives people who have never done this before the opportunity."
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