Local triathlete Janelle Morrison is among the nearly 1

Local triathlete Janelle Morrison is among the nearly 1

Challenge Penticton closing in on 1,400 participants

That's still only about half the number who participated in last year's Ironman triathlon

Nearly 1,400 people have registered for the new Challenge Penticton triathlon, about half the number who participated in last year’s Ironman race.

Challenge Penticton executive director Barb Haynes told the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on Thursday that 1,362 competitors had signed up as of that morning, and organizers are expecting the finally tally to range between 1,500 and 1,700.

Haynes asked the RDOS for a $25,000 sponsorship in exchange for branding opportunities, but the board will deal with that request at a later date.

The Challenge Penticton triathlon is scheduled for Aug. 25. Although much the same in form, it replaces the Ironman races that had been held annually for the previous 30 years.

Challenge Penticton has a $960,000 budget for this year, $575,000 of which is expected to come from registration fees and another $255,000 from sponsorships, Haynes said, adding the event is being built from the ground up.

“Everything that we’re doing with Challenge Penticton is from scratch, so nothing has held over from the previous race. There’s barely a paper clip,” she said.

Haynes told RDOS directors that Challenge-related events are planned to begin Aug. 21 to provide a greater level of community involvement than Ironman did. Professional athletes, she added, will compete for a $75,000 prize purse and will be drug tested after the race since it will be a sanctioned event.

Last year, Ironman attracted 2,700 competitors and Haynes said she’s confident its replacement will build back up to that level, but noted that two other Ironman events are planned in Whistler and Louisville for the same day as Challenge Penticton and that has likely hurt registrations for the new race.

The City of Penticton cut ties with Ironman last summer and quickly partnered with the Challenge Family to keep a race here.

To get the event, the city agreed to purchase a licence from the Challenge Family, and then assign that licence to the Penticton Triathlon Race Society.

According to a memorandum of understanding obtained by the Western News, a final licensing agreement was expected to be in place by October 2012. However, the deal is still awaiting sign-off from Challenge Family, according to city spokesperson Simone Blais.