ITU expected to draw more than 12,000 to Penticton

Michael Brown said it has been a process getting ready to host the 2017 ITU world championships.

Michael Brown said it has been a long process getting everything ready to host the 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton this summer.

“It is looking like it is going to be a bigger festival,” said Brown, Challenge Penticton owner and race director. “The numbers we were looking at were 2,500 athletes and that would have been a huge win for everyone, including the ITU, the city and our organization.

“Right now, we are looking at approximately 5,000 athletes, about 7,500 spectators. That doesn’t include support staff as far as coaches, massage therapists, all those other things that go along with a festival this size.”

To put it in context, last year the summer Olympics had 10,000 athletes.

Penticton has a great history of triathlon, said Brown, but what is most important is where it led.

That, he continued, is Penticton hosting the largest endurance sports festival in the world in 2017.

“To have something as large as this is a win for everybody. It’s a win for the citizens, it’s a win for the business owners, it’s a win for us as an organization,” said Brown. “We’re going to nail it with the hopes that in five years, we get the festival back again.”

Brown was speaking to city council Tuesday, in advance of finalizing the agreement to host the event. Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the agreement represents a long-term investment securing Penticton’s place as a world-class triathlon destination and will provide huge exposure for the city not only as a place to train or compete, but also to live, work and play.

“We are iconic in the whole language of triathlon in the international community,” said coun. Judy Sentes. “This is our chance to really shine.”

The Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, Travel Penticton and the Downtown Penticton Association have all expressed their support for the event, according to a city press release.

“An event of this magnitude will be a boost for the Penticton business community, there’s no question. Our focus now for local business is to get stocked up and be prepared,” said Chamber of Commerce president Michael Magnusson.

The immediate economic impact from Penticton 2017 is estimated to be upwards of $15 million with as many as 40,000 room nights.

Unlike past triathlons in the city, Penticton 2017 features athletes racing for their country after qualifying through their national federation.

The annual Challenge Penticton event is also taking place this year with the date moved to July 23 to accommodate the ITU championships, which take place Aug. 18 to 27.