Challenge triathlon no more

This summer saw the final Challenge Penticton.

City council granted organizer Michael Brown’s request Tuesday to drop the Challenge brand from next year’s event. Brown cited declining participation worldwide in long-course triathlon and a desire to shift the event into a more inclusive multi-day race.

He told council Challenge Penticton is currently the only Challenge-branded race in North America, down from a peak of 10 a few years ago, when the brand was attempting an aggressive North America expansion.

“Worldwide long course participation is down 20 per cent worldwide, while long course events are up by 40 per cent world wide,” Brown said, suggesting the market is currently over saturated with events.

He added that “one and done” participation is on the rise, with many participants completing a triathlon to simply check it off a bucket list. The millennial market is also unengaged with the sport, as the average age of participants climbs every year.

Brown told council he is in talks with several other brands to offer a more diverse event with multiple races such as half-distance races and relays.

“The days are gone that we could attract 2,000 people for one race,” he said, adding they have a better shot at attracting participants with multiple races, pointing the the success of the ITU Multisport Championships as proof that festivals are the trend.

Future racing events should be planned around families with a lower barrier of entry, he said.

Challenge Family headquarters in Germany has signed off on the plan, releasing Brown from the contract, who assured council that a triathlon event will be taking place next summer near the end of August as usual.

Brown's agreement and payments due to the city remain unchanged.

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