Challenge looks to paint town red

Challenge Penticton organizers are rolling out the red carpet for participants.

Making sure athletes and fans are welcomed to the South Okanagan was a key strategy for the first-ever Challenge Penticton race last year, and organizers are trying to take that welcome message to a new level for this year’s race.

This week, Challenge Penticton partnered with Benjamin Moore True Colours Paints for their Roll Out the Red Carpet campaign, offering businesses and community the opportunity to purchase three different welcome packages, consisting of items like a red welcome mat, pennants and t-shirts.

The items — branded car flags, bumper stickers and more — can also be purchased individually.

Kelly Hopkins, marketing manager for Challenge Penticton, said the inspiration for the campaign came from Challenge Roth, the first race for what would become the Challenge Family, and one of the largest triathlons in the world.

“It’s (Roth, Germany) a small town that just completely explodes with Challenge the week prior,” said Hopkins.

“And they just really open their doors to everybody that comes into their town.”

The Red Carpet campaign, she explained, is to help build positive experiences for the athletes and other visitors.

“I want people to embrace the folks that come here and spend their time and money in our community,” said Hopkins.

“We want them to feel that they are important to our community and we appreciate them being here. We want this event to grow.”

Hopkins said they hope to get the entire South Okanagan region involved, and they are rolling it out in communities all along the racecourse, including, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Cawston, Keremeos and Penticton.

“My focus has always been to bring the soul back to triathlon, to bring the community together, to own this again,” said Hopkins.

“We had very limited resources, so we had to be really creative in the way that we are out there marketing.”

That includes, she said, focusing on Challenge Penticton’s social media presence as well as working at a grassroots level, approaching triathlon groups and clubs from Saskatchewan to California.

“We engaged our pro athletes to go out and speak directly to those folks and talk about their Challenge experience they had here last year. That brought in a lot of registrations,” said Hopkins.

With the Aug. 3 registration deadline rapidly approaching, Hopkins said there has been a flurry of people signing up.

“We are easily going to exceed our numbers from last year,” said Hopkins. “We have well over 1,000.”

Challenge volunteers will be approaching local businesses to pre-order packages.

The deadline for ordering is July 27 and the packages will be delivered the week of Aug. 15 in time to prepare for race week.

Challenge is also seeking volunteers to help promote the Red Carpet campaign throughout the region.

To volunteer for Roll Out The Red Carpet or to order your package contact Peggy Gilmore at pgilmore@shaw.ca  or call the Valley First Challenge Penticton Canada office at 250-276-2163.

For a complete package menu go to www.challenge-penticton.com/news.

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