Triathlon Magazine Canada - - TRAVEL -

Once the site of the largest fulld­is­tance race in the world, for years Pen­tic­ton was Canada’s most pop­u­lar triathlon spot. In 2010 the race hosted 2,699 com­peti­tors, the largest Iron­man field ever. The year be­fore there had been 2,602, the year af­ter it was an even 2,600. Those heady days of chock-a-block full ho­tels and busy restau­rants all changed when the city de­cided not to stick with Iron­man and host a Chal­lenge event, which hasn’t, to this point, been able to draw any­where near those kind of num­bers.

That’s all likely to change this sum­mer, though, when Pen­tic­ton hosts the first ever ITU Mul­tisport World Cham­pi­onships Fes­ti­val that will in­clude six world cham­pi­onship races: duathlon (both sprint and stan­dard), Cross, Aquathlon, Aquabike and Long Dis­tance.

The Cana­dian team, con­sist­ing of 1,200 ath­letes, is the largest age group team ever sent to a world cham­pi­onships “by a long shot,” says race di­rec­tor Michael Brown. “We’re ex­pect­ing sim­i­lar num­bers from the U.S.”

There could be as many as 4,000 par­tic­i­pants in the week-long fes­ti­val, Brown says.

In or­der to al­low ath­letes to com­pete in mul­ti­ple races, each world cham­pi­onship is sep­a­rated by a day. The ITU has a rule that pro­hibits ath­letes from par­tic­i­pat­ing in two events that are less than 36 hours apart – that won’t be a fac­tor in Pen­tic­ton. There’s even a spe­cial prize for ath­letes who be­come a “Mul­tisport Leg­end” and com­plete four events: a cus­tom belt buckle.

Those will be pre­sented at the clos­ing cer­e­monies for the world cham­pi­onships, which will be just one of three ma­jor cer­e­mony gath­er­ings dur­ing the week. In ad­di­tion to the fi­nal get to­gether there will be two pasta par­ties – one that serves as the open­ing cer­e­mony, the other head­ing into the long-course triathlon. There will be a lot more than just rac­ing hap­pen­ing dur­ing the week, too. “It’s not just a sport­ing event,” Brown says, “It’s a fes­ti­val.” In ad­di­tion to the open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies, the long-dis­tance pasta party and all the var­i­ous medal cer­e­monies, there will also be a Kids Triathlon on the Satur­day morn­ing be­fore the long-course race, fea­tur­ing a swim, bike and run race for chil­dren aged three to 15 that will take place in the heart of Pen­tic­ton.

Just be­cause you haven’t qual­i­fied for the na­tional team doesn’t mean you can’t par­tic­i­pate. Ev­ery race has an open cat­e­gory, which means you can com­pete over ex­actly the same course as those con­tend­ing for the world cham­pi­onship. Ath­letes in the open cat­e­gory won’t be el­i­gi­ble for awards, but those who com­plete four races will still claim the belt buckle that will dis­tin­guish them as a “leg­end.”

What drew all those ath­letes to Pen­tic­ton for Iron­man Canada was the beauty of the re­gion, the chal­leng­ing, but fair, course, tra­di­tion, but, most of all, the in­cred­i­bly wel­com­ing com­mu­nity that worked so hard to en­sure ev­ery­one had a once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence. All that re­mains in place. With swims in beau­ti­ful Okana­gan Lake and the bike and run cour­ses through the spec­tac­u­lar Okana­gan Val­ley re­gion, the set­ting for the event is sec­ond to none. The com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to em­brace mul­tisport rac­ing and is per­fectly poised to host ath­letes from around the world for this in­au­gu­ral world cham­pi­onship fes­ti­val.—km

LEFT, BE­LOW AND BOT­TOM Chal­lenge Pen­tic­ton

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