The challenge with Challenge

It is hard to imagine that summer is coming to a close. I hear tourism numbers were up this year, so it is disappointing to have Mother Nature (smoke) cloud the last few weeks of summer.  I wish we could accuse Mother Nature of raining on our parade, then at least it would clear up the smoke and provide much needed relief to the forest fires.

On Sunday, the Valley First Challenge Penticton triathlon will commence and our region will celebrate 33 years of this signature endurance sporting event. Registration numbers are up and we expect more than 1,300 athletes challenging themselves to swim 3.8KM, bike 180KM and run 42.2KM or the half distance either as an individual or relay team.  There are more than 50 professional athletes competing which will challenge Jeff Symonds in his pursuit to capture his 3rd championship.

The landscape of triathlons has vastly changed over the past few years with the saturation of the marketplace. The sport of triathlon is increasing in numbers, and so have the opportunities to compete.  The older demographic is aging and looks at limiting impacts of the sport and training regime to better compliment their lifestyle. The younger demographic focuses on a variety of extreme and endurance sports, so having the relay and half triathlon is a great way to introduce and expand the sport to more athletes.

There will be road closures along Main Street and Lakeshore Drive, so plan your day according. Please understand that this event happens once a year, and provides significant economic impact to our community.  Not everyone reacts positively to the road closures around signature events in Penticton, like Challenge and Granfondo. Firstly, we need to understand that both events are bigger than just a one-day competition – many participants come to our area to train several times though out the year, spending money each time they arrive. When a major event comes to town, business owners have the chance to engage the influx athletes, as well as their families, supporters and spectators. I see Challenge flags, banners and carpet mats throughout the community, so that is a great start and indication to participants that you support the race and in turn hopefully they support your business. 

The next two years will be crucial and very exciting times for Penticton hosting the 2016 Canadian Triathlon championships (over 2,000 athletes expected), and in 2017 the World Multisport Festival (3,000 to 4,000 expected). Both events are sanctioned International Triathlon Union (ITU) events, and strategically aligning with the organizing body that oversees the sport of triathlon is a good thing. Both events will help leverage and re-establish Penticton as the premier triathlon destination for training, family fun and competition.

We are proud of 32 year history of hosting triathlons, our legendary volunteer army, the supportive and welcoming community and iconic course that is among stunning vistas of mountains, vineyards and lakes. It is our hope that athletes and their families visiting will be amazed by the beauty and lifestyle Penticton and area provides so they consider return visits to train, compete and relax. Even better yet is if a participant contemplates and actions investment or moving here.

This is great event, made even better with our amazing volunteers and the new finish line at Okanagan Lake Park. I recommend you check it out, and enjoy some red and white on Sunday.