Thousands of athletes, supporters and residents will be filling Penticton’s streets, beaches and parks this weekend for the historic return of Ironman Canada.
It’s been 10 years since Subaru Ironman Canada was in Penticton so residents are being reminded to anticipate large crowds and extensive road closures on race day, Sunday, Aug. 28.
“With the return of Ironman, I know the entire city will feel the energy the athletes bring to the competition and that those competing will draw strength from the support of our community,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki. “I’d encourage everyone to get involved in this great event in any way they can, whether through volunteering or cheering loudly as these exceptional athletes compete.”
First to Lakeshore Dr. finish line are expected around 3 p.m.
The 2,000 triathletes registered for the race have been training and competing for this day all year.
Ironman Penticton will lead athletes along a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike, and 42 km run through Penticton and surrounding areas. The swim takes place in Okanagan Lake. Once out of the water, athletes take off on the 180km bike, a one-loop course that climbs up Richter Pass and Yellow Lake before a winding descent down White Lake Rd. back into Penticton. This year will feature a new run course that is flat and fast, passing local vineyards and orchards along the KVR Trail in Naramata. At the end of the 226.3 km journey, athletes will make their way to the historic finish line on Lakeshore Drive with the first finisher expected around 3 p.m.
“There is nothing more inspirational than watching the athletes cross the finish line and hearing their stories,” said Vassilaki. There are 2,000 athletes registered this year.
Oldest “Canadian Ironman legend” is 79
The oldest registered athlete competing is “Canadian Ironman legend” 79-year-old Dick Ensslen, of Edmonton, Alta. who competed in every edition of Ironman Canada except the first year the event was held in 1983.
Ensslen joked that his favourite part about the Penticton Ironman is the finish line. His strength is in running, the hardest part is the bike portion.
The youngest athlete is 18-year-old Shelby Lehmann from Cranbrook.
Many American triathletes are participating including California resident Reagan Anders, a deaf single mom of two who is also a four-time gold medalist at the Deaflympic.
There is Bob Jordan, 71, of Oregon who will be racing for Emily, his daughter who died from cancer at just five years old.
When Jordan crosses the finish line, it will be his 40th Ironman finish.
Alex Koruga, 29, of Seattle will be competing after just finishing his second round of cancer treatment after cancer came back a second time.
With every athlete, there is a story which makes cheering them on so important. Fan kits will be handed out at the Aug. 27 Penticton market.
Road closures aplenty
With the decade-long hiatus of the race, road closures will cause significant delays on Sunday, including along Lakeshore Drive, Main Street and Skaha Lake Road. Motorists are advised to use Channel Parkway wherever possible. Many of the closures start at 4 a.m. Sunday and run until 1 a.m. the next morning.
Be aware that Main Street will be particularly busy between 1-5 p.m. when both runners and cyclists will be on the road. The best time to cross is between 9:45-11:30 a.m. A full list of closures, plus charts and maps, is available online at penticton.ca/ironman, including tips about where to cross Main Street.
Anyone planning to head downtown is encouraged to walk, ride bikes or take public transit wherever possible, since parking access will be limited.
Also, expect extra foot traffic downtown on Saturday, Aug. 27, for the Ironkids Fun Run, with Lakeshore Drive being closed between Winnipeg Street and Riverside Drive from 8-10:30 a.m.
Residents are encouraged to get involved and show their support, as is the Penticton tradition.
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