Not everyone swam, biked or ran on Sunday, but as the Challenge Penticton motto goes, We are triathlon — and all of us were at least for one weekend.
As with most events, they better with age. In its second year, the Valley First Challenge Penticton Canada is proof. The 2014 event had a great atmosphere with all reaches of the community getting involved, tri-geek or not. The ability to incorporate the community behind the event over a four-day festival is what will win people over. The buzz leading up to the race and atmosphere down at Gyro Park, especially as it got closer to midnight on Sunday, was much more noticeable this year.
In a time where professional athletes make headlines for getting their hands slapped for unbecoming behaviour just as often as they do for their sporting abilities, Jeff Symonds and local female pro Jen Annett are breaths of fresh air. The pair of athletes couldn’t speak these past few days without saying something positive about Penticton or their rock-star reception. Symonds shrugged off his popularity when asked about it at the finish line. Instead, he proposed that he would insure every person on the course (professional or not) gets that same treatment.
It is also the volunteers that were eager to accommodate, some standing longer than athletes who ran the race, that make this race possible. It is with their support, and those who come out to offer a few kind words and cheers, that this course continues to be touted as one of the best. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing your encouragement offered to a complete stranger is helping them down the road a few more metres towards their goal.
The tradition of triathlon in Penticton will continue, there is no doubt about it. A new lease signed by triathlon enthusiasts and businessmen will make Challenge Penticton better one stride, one push on the pedals and one stroke at a time until this race gets its legs.