Leadership group takes shape for Challenge Penticton triathlon

City has yet to finalize its agreement with Challenge Family

Negotiations between the City of Penticton and its latest triathlon partner are taking longer than expected, but the society overseeing the race has moved a little quicker to get its new leader to the starting line.

Challenge Penticton announced this week that Barb Haynes has been hired as general manager effective Dec. 10, when she will begin planning the event that next August will replace Ironman Canada.

Haynes said the lure of building the race from the ground up was enough to pull her away from her post as head of the Downtown Penticton Association, where she will be replaced by Kerri Milton, former manager of the Pen-Mar Cinema.

“I love my job, so it wasn’t something I was looking to necessarily leave,” Haynes said.

“Having said that, the position at Challenge (matches) my skill set and is an amazing opportunity and one that I am thrilled to have been offered.”

Haynes becomes the second paid employee of Challenge Penticton following the hiring of race director Laura Carleton in early November.

Paul McCann, who chairs the volunteer board of the Penticton Triathlon Race Society, said the group was looking for a manager with expertise in marketing, sponsorships and event management.

“And those are all things that Barb Haynes has in aces,” he said, adding revenue generation will be among her priorities.

“There’s a thousand things to do, but likely the first will be to build on marketing and sponsorships to bring in revenue to the race and the community,” McCann said.

The society, which has looked after preparations to date and will eventually receive from the city the licence to use the Challenge brand, is currently running on revenue from participant registration fees, McCann added, and doesn’t even have an office yet.

“The city has offered some (office space) to get us up and going, but we’re not in it yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city has yet to come to terms with the Germany-based Challenge Family on a licensing agreement and is still negotiating under a letter of intent signed in August.

That five-page letter, a redacted version of which was obtained by the Western News through a freedom of information request, notes the parties “plan to agree on all conditions of the license agreement” by Oct. 15, 2012.

Mayor Dan Ashton said people should “absolutely not” read anything into the passed deadline.

“It’s back and forth and that’s what happens when you deal with somebody in another country. But we’re also very, very close.”

The equivalent of one full page of the letter’s text was redacted to protect third-party business interests and what’s left does not include any details about financial arrangements.

Ashton said he’s unsure if those details and cost to taxpayers will be released once the final agreement has been inked.

“I know some of it’s proprietary, just like how it was with Ironman, and that’s one of the issues because it’s a contract,” he said. “I can just assure you it’s a substantially better deal for the community than what it was with the other triathlon group.”

The preamble to the letter states Challenge Family “aims for a high-class international level as regards the competition itself as well as optimum conditions regarding media coverage and marketing.”

It goes on to note the final licence agreement will be valid for a minimum of five years and give the city an option to renew the licence for two additional five-year terms. It also gives Penticton the exclusive right to host a Challenge-branded long-distance triathlon in Canada or the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

The letter was signed on Aug. 23, 2012, the day before the city staged a press conference to announce it had partnered with Challenge Family.

Additional information provided through the same freedom of information request shows Challenge Family CEO Felix Walchshofer first made contact with the city via email in May 2012.

Walchshofer and a business partner then made a presentation to city council at an in-camera meeting Aug. 7, and the letter of intent was ready for council to review by the time another in-camera meeting was held Aug. 22.


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