Penticton city officials announced Thursday that the long existing Ironman Canada was being replaced by another triathlon.
The news that Challenge Penticton will replace Ironman came as hundreds of triathletes poured into town for the 30th running of the grueling event on Sunday, which will still go ahead as scheduled.
“This is bringing the triathlon back to the athletes and the community,” says Mayor Dan Ashton. “And we are now part of the challenge family.”
Challenge Penticton, to be held at the same time as next year's Ironman was scheduled, joins the Challenge Family’s series of races that includes the world’s largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany.
Canadian triathlete Peter Reid, who was in attendance, will serve as the event ambassador. The ultimate goal will be to bring a new race experience to a time-honoured course.
Challenge Family CEO Felix Walchshofer, who also spoke briefly, said he was delighted to bring the first challenge triathlon to North America.
“We are looking forward to working with this community and proud to continue this for years to come.” he said.
Councillor Garry Litke says the change came about after the city was informed by Graham Fraser, who purchased the Penticton race in 1996, that this would be his last race and World Triathlon Corporation would be taking over.
“Their philosophy is big corporation, big business, so we thought hold on, this is our town, and we, well, said no,” says Litke.
The City Council started looking at who was available to hold a triathlon and before they knew it, they were in communication with Challenge Family.
“There was this dynamic duo from Germany saying they could do this for us,” said Litke.
After a long day of meetings Wednesday, the decision was made to move ahead, leading to Thursday’s announcement.
Subaru Ironman Canada could not be reached for comment.
The announcement, which took many by surprise, evoked mixed reactions from triathletes and owners of sports oriented businesses in the city.
Mike Lies, a triathlete in town from Indiana, says it’s like the Boston Marathon suddenly calling the long existing race whatever.
“Ironman Canada is huge, certainly on my bucket list,” he said. “So this seems like a downgrading to me.”
But Steve Brown, owner of Peach City Runners & Adventure Sports, described it as absolutely awesome for the city.
“This will put the community back into it with a week-long festival, instead of the cookie cutter style event with people showing up for three days.”