Triathlon cancelled

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 2:15 p.m.

Smoke from over 568,000 hectares burning across the province has made its way to the Okanagan Valley and forced two triathlons to be cancelled.

Super League Triathlon in Penticton and Apple Triathlon in Kelowna were both cancelled on Sunday due to the smoky haze.

“If you’ve raced already, we’d love to get you the finisher t-shirt and medal you worked so hard for. We’ll be set up at 9 a.m. at the finish line with a cameraman to grab a photo,” said Super League Penticton on Twitter.

Organizers and athletes were both disappointed with having to cancel the races.

“This is not what any of us had planned for this weekend,” said race director Susie Ernsting.

Race officials made the call just after 5 a.m. to call the event.

“Our team got here at 4 a.m., and it was pretty terrible,” she said. “We wanted to catch the athletes before they travelled to the site."

Eighteen months went in to planning the event, which Ernsting said was a great dress rehearsal for next year.

Triathlete Grant Flagler said officials made the right call.

“We had raced here a couple of years ago, it is a beautiful course, it is probably my favourite triathlon,” he said.

Flagler said the weather was ‘nasty’ on Sunday and he will be back next year ready to race.

ORIGINAL: 6:20 a.m.

Poor air quality has forced the complete cancellation of the Kelowna Apple Triathlon.

Continued smoke-filled skies have cancelled Sunday's age group and elite races after Saturday's events were also pulled.

The air quality health index remains at a 10+ or very high risk throughout the Okanagan as forest fires rage across the B.C. Interior. 

“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement,” said race director Susie Ernsting. “This weekend of racing was a culmination of months of hard work from the dedicated volunteers, board of directors, and hard working athletes. We were so excited to have the Apple return to Kelowna, and it is beyond devastating that we are unable to do any races. We hope to regroup for 2019 and appreciate the triathlon community’s understanding these circumstances are outside of our control.”

“The health and safety of our athletes, volunteers and spectators is our No. 1 priority,” says Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society Chair Matt Canzer. “When the air quality health index is like this it’s just not safe to engage in strenuous outdoor activity.”

Triathlon Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee will adjust the Pan American Games selection criteria for Canadian athletes that were connected with the National Championships/CAMTRI race. 

“This is obviously an unfortunate series of events that Mother Nature has dealt us. The National Championships is the lone event of the year that brings all of us in the Triathlon Canada Nation together, but the but the protection, safety and health of our athletes, coaches and volunteers is our number one priority – always,” said Kim Van Bruggen, CEO of Triathlon Canada. 

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