Kevin Cutjar said his decision to resign from his position with Challenge Penticton doesn’t reflect a lack of confidence in the race.
“I am quite positive about the future for Challenge, that wasn’t an issue,” said Cutjar, who was co/owner.
Cutjar, along with then partner Michael Brown, picked up the Challenge licence from the City of Penticton in 2014, and their organization ran the race for the first time in 2015.
Cutjar recently sold his interest to Brown, who has now taken over as the sole operator.
“He was good with that. He was quite happy and motivated to carry on running the event himself,” said Cutjar, adding his main reason for resigning was to get back to his coaching and focus on other areas of the sport.
“I will still be involved in the (Challenge) event and any events in Penticton and around the area, basically running camps and coaching athletes,” said Cutjar. “That’s where my main area of expertise is. I’ve been a coach full time in Penticton for about 15 years now.”
Cutjar said he tried to keep his coaching business going while working on Challenge, but found he couldn’t do both.
“It’s more about a personal life choice rather than a business opportunity. There is plenty of opportunity around the sport with Challenge and the athletes that want to do Challenge,” said Cutjar.
For his part, Brown said he has no plans for the event other than continuing to make improvements.
“I am committed to the race, the race is in Penticton. I am committed to putting on a great event,” said Brown. “Nothing has changed except Kevin has chosen to take a step back from the business.”
In 2016, Challenge Penticton will focus on a new distance — three kilometre swim, 120 km cycle and 30 km run — for the Canadian Long Distance Triathlon Championship leading to the 2017 International Triathlon Union Multisport World Championships Festival, which will also be hosted in Penticton.
“It’s a natural stepping stone for those who want to do a full distance race, from the half-Ironman to that new Challenge distance,” said Cutjar.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he has had several conversations with Brown about the upcoming ITU events.
“We are committed to the Challenge brand and confident in Michael’s ability to take the brand to the level where we are getting back to the numbers and impact to the community, both economically and exposure wise,” said Jakubeit.
Cutjar said the licence with the city and the Challenge family covers a five-year term.
“That would go through to and include 2019 and potentially carry on after that on a new licence,” said Cutjar adding that there is no real concern about Penticton losing the event. “Penticton is the best place to have the race. I think with the way the format of the race is now, and going forward, I am quite positive about the future of it.”