Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Penticton?

Tomorrow after work I leave for Challenge Penticton, a race I’ve been looking forward to ever since I decided to apply for my professional license. Amid the craziness that is the lead up to a race (scrambling to finish work items, packing snacks for the long drive, and fitting in a pre-race pedicure somewhere…ya know, the important stuff), I wanted to mention a few things about why I chose this race.

Run along Skaha Lake
As a Seattle triathlete, Penticton is a special place. It’s close enough to drive and often a wonderful capstone after sunny months of summer training. For years it’s seemed that as soon as Penticton was over, I struggled to find training partners unless someone was lucky enough and fast enough to get a Kona slot. If you talk to any Seattle based athlete who has “raced Canada” they’ll get a bit nostalgic and agree that Ironman Canada will always be the race that takes place in Penticton the weekend before Labor Day. If you want to read some of the background about the ownership of this historic race, check out the articles here and here.

Last year I had the opportunity to crew for an Ultraman team in Penticton. I drove up with my friend John Bergen, who took 2nd in the event, and he talked about his years “racing Canada.” He went on and on about the community support. And he mentioned the time in 2003 when they almost cancelled the race due to forest fires. Several of the volunteers were firemen who stayed up all night fighting fires and showed up the next morning to help with the race so the event could take place. I find it hard to believe that many other small communities could pull off something like that. I remember getting chills when John told me about it.
As part of an Ultraman crew, I got to know some of the biggest triathlon supporters in the city. I remember Steve Brown, Ultraman Canada Race Director and 2014 Challenge Penticton Director of Race Operations, talking about how Ultraman was made up of athletes who really loved to do crazy things (obviously). But the way he talked about it, I could tell he did his work not in the name of registration fees or branding. I got the sense that he just “got it” when it came to the love of the sport, and doing a race in this city would be something special. Not only that, I got to enjoy the stellar announcing by legendary announcer Steve King. I can only hope he’s back at Challenge Penticton this year. Check out this interview with Steve King on Breakfast with Bob at Challenge Roth in 2013. He has a resume unlike any other announcer in the sport – fast, intelligent, and entertaining. The interview is worth a listen.
And for all triathletes, Penticton should be special. It was the second Ironman (behind Hawaii) and a place where many of the sport’s legends raced for years – Peter Reid, Faris Al-Sutan, Thomas Hellriegel, Paula Newby-Fraser, Lisa Bentley, Erin Baker, Paul Huddle, Team Hoyt, and Sister Madonna Buder. The list goes on and on. I found this article about some of the other notable events over the years this race has taken place, as well as a good course description.

One of the rollers off Richter Pass
I never had the chance to race in Penticton when it was a WTC event. As my times improved I would try for Kona qualification in CDA versus a late season race. I somewhat regret not having raced it in its heyday. But that's part of the reason I chose Penticton for this year. I want to see this event gain back its traction. I want to experience it firsthand and be able to speak highly of the event. I’ve seen the course and it's challenging and scenic. I gave up my Hood to Coast spot with Puke and Rally in order to race Canada, so I better take full advantage of making it the “weekend of the year.” And beyond that, I’m excited to become part of the Challenge Family. I can’t think of a better place to do so than in Penticton.

Best of luck to all the athletes this year and thank you to everyone for making this event happen!

With Heart,


  1. You're going to LOVE it!!! Go fast, take chances, and enjoy the hell out of that race this weekend. Puke & Rally is going to miss you and I'm going to miss our late night 'power down' moment but we will also be cheering for you! Have a fantastic weekend my friend.

  2. Yeah!!! Bring back that old glory!!! Challenge Penticton!!!! Good Luck!!!!!

  3. Beautiful post CK. Have fun and kick a$$ (or bum as the Canadians would say:-))

  4. Hello Cathleen,
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    Professional Public Relations / Marketing & Communications