Penticton Ironman’s last hurrah

Emotions run high among competitors in Sunday’s final Ironman in Penticton

Fred Lambright of Westbank is cheered on to the transition area by volunteers after finishing the swim portion of the Subaru Ironman Canada race in Penticton Sunday. Lambright was among the final three to get out of the water before the deadline. He went on to finish the race placing ninth in the 65-69 age division. Sunday's event was the 30th and final Ironman in Penticton. For more photos see Page 11.

Fred Lambright of Westbank is cheered on to the transition area by volunteers after finishing the swim portion of the Subaru Ironman Canada race in Penticton Sunday. Lambright was among the final three to get out of the water before the deadline. He went on to finish the race placing ninth in the 65-69 age division. Sunday's event was the 30th and final Ironman in Penticton. For more photos see Page 11.

Something was decidedly missing down at Ironman ground zero at Rotary Park on Monday.

“A little bit different atmosphere down here today,” said one man casually milling about the mostly empty park which is normally a hive of activity the day after Ironman Canada in Penticton.

Instead of the seemingly endless snaking lines of people wanting to sign up for next year’s event, there was just one for racers who took part in Sunday’s 30th and final Penticton Ironman looking to pick up official finishers’ gear.

“I was standing at the start of the swim (Sunday) morning and probably had about 500 athletes hug me and I was crying the whole time,” said former owner of Ironman Canada Graham Fraser. “I always made sure I took care of the athletes first and it was nice to see them acknowledge that this morning.”

Fraser rode the bike portion of Ironman on Sunday, taking in the atmosphere of the final Ironman race in Penticton. He said in his wildest dreams he would have never thought this triathlon that started with just a handful of competitors would grow so popular. Looking forward, Fraser said he knows when it is time for him to go and he won’t be involved in Challenge Penticton, which is taking over the triathlon.

“Penticton will be fine. The one thing I know about this community is that it is resilient and it rallies around and figures it out. It is a special place that way,” said Fraser. “So for the people of Penticton, don’t take this as a negative, take this as a new start.”

After 17 years at the helm of the Penticton Ironman, Fraser said he will cherish many wonderful memories.

“Penticton has been a special part of the history of the sport and that is the part the athletes know and it still will be. Penticton is a triathlon town,” said Fraser.

Meanwhile over at the South Okanagan Events Centre, people moved along rapidly through a lineup to register for the 2013 Challenge Penticton. Live music serenaded the crowd while food and drinks were handed out by the Challenge Family CEO Felix Walchshöfer, the mayor and members of city council.

“We are stoked, we had really good and positive feedback with hundreds of people coming up. That is actually more than we expected, so we are absolutely thrilled,” said Walchshöfer. “The in-boxes are full from Challenge Family especially from Europeans but also a lot of athletes from Canada and the States that are asking when online (registration) is going to start.”

The organizers of the new race already have successful events in Germany, New Zealand and the Canary Islands, Penticton is their first foray into North America. The Challenge Penticton event invited in-person registration on Monday morning and it was opened up worldwide online on Tuesday.

“The 9 a.m. registration is a bit difficult for the Europeans because it will be midnight, but I already got a lot of emails from people staying up to be first in line to register, so that is very, very promising,” said Walchshöfer.

Laura Campbell was grinning ear to ear as she came out of the SOEC as a registered participant for the 2013 Challenge Penticton.

“I think it is amazing. I know a lot of people might be pissed but I was excited,” said the Vancouver native of the changeover. “I thought that in the future I would love to try a Challenge series event and now I get to. Doing the actual event is what means the most to me. I don’t care about a brand, it’s the fact I am doing that distance.”

For Penticton’s Colin Madill, who missed the bike cutoff by just a minute on Sunday, the news of the change over to the Challenge was “devastating.”

“I think there is something magical about saying you are an Ironman,” said Madill, who was in the lineup for the Challenge registration with friends but said he would make his final decision when he got to the front of the line. “I was upset at city council for letting it go, but hopefully it will be a positive change.”

Others had mixed emotions about seeing the event switch hands after having such an impact over 30 years as an Ironman Canada branded race. Martin Wennen of Vancouver said he plans on signing up for both the Challenge Penticton and the yet-to-be-determined location of Ironman Canada 2013 race, which was accepting online registrations.

“I love Penticton and it was the big draw for me. I looked at Coeur d’Alene Ironman for signing up but I just love Penticton,” said Daphne Brown, who drove down from Salmon Arm on Monday to register for Challenge Penticton. “I want to check this off my bucket list … at first I was kind of disappointed because I can’t say I am an Ironman, but I don’t really care. It is just the fact that I am doing the event.”

Professional triathlete Christian Brader, who is from Germany, home of the successful Challenge Roth, said he hasn’t entered into a Challenge Family race.

“It’s not the last race here. It’s just another label. I don’t think it’s less attractive than before. They do a good job. I’m sure it will be a good race. I would also come back it if is not an Ironman,” said Brader.

The feeling seemed mutual between many of the professionals asked if they would return to Penticton for the Challenge Family race.

“I would always race in Penticton. I don’t care what the name of the race would be. If the community is behind it and Steve King and all these organizers are here, I would always come here for this race,” said professional female winner Gillian Clayton.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alzheimer's Awareness
Okanagan study looking for volunteers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

The study is looking at how gut bacteria may help slow the disease

Penticton City Hall. (File photo)
City of Penticton seeking grants to fund public washroom improvements

The grant would fund washrooms at Gyro Park and Riverside Park

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Penticton’s Burdock House supportive housing on Winnipeg St. is one of the B.C. Housing buildings the City of Penticton wants audited. (File photo)
City of Penticton seeks audit of BC Housing supportive housing units

BC Housing recently announced plans to construct a new supportive housing unit in the city

A GoFundMe campaign for a display of unity quickly received donations. The initiative, by the Lekhi family of Summerland, began days after their home had been targeted by vandalism and racist graffiti. Discussions are now taking place to determine where an art piece promoting unity will be located. (
Artwork in Summerland to show message of inclusivity

Initiative began following vandalism of Indo-Canadian family’s home in July

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Alexandra “Annabelle” Lee and her grandpa Bryan Weightman enjoyed a shopping spree at the Sicamous Askew’s foods location after Weightman won a draw for a gift card. (Submitted)
Sicamous seven-year-old fills grandparents’ shopping cart after contest win

When her grandparents won an Askew’s Foods gift card, Alexandra Lee got to handle the shopping

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

The Summerland Minor Hockey Association has had to make changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Games, such as this one from 2018, are not allowed, but players have been working on skills development. (Summerland Review file photo)
Summerland minor hockey focuses on skills development

Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected practices for young players

Most Read