City councillor wants 30th Ironman race to be special despite change

When the 30th Subaru Ironman Canada on Aug. 26 concludes, it will also mark the final time that Graham Fraser is in charge.

When the 30th Subaru Ironman Canada on Aug. 26 concludes, it will also mark the final time that Graham Fraser is in charge.

Fraser, who purchased the race in 1996, has given up the rights to the licence of the race to Providence Equity Partners, which owns the World Triathlon Corporation.

When Fraser sold his U.S. race assets of North America Sports, which included Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Ironman USA Lake Placid, Ironman Wisconsin, Ironman Florida, Ironman Arizona, Ironman 70.3 California and Florida in January of 2009, it didn’t include the Penticton race.

“WTC is excited to welcome Graham Fraser and the NAS U.S. operational team, which has a tremendous track record putting on some of the finest Ironman Races in the world,” said Ben Fertic, the president of WTC on its website in 2009. “We look forward to their long-term contributions to the quality and growth of future Ironman races.

Judy Sentes, a Penticton city councillor and former president of the Ironman Canada Race Society, who also has close ties to Fraser, said not including Subaru Ironman Canada was part of Fraser’s plan.

That changed earlier this week as WTC advised Fraser that they want all the licences, said Sentes.

“He was not inclined in the beginning to sell the licences back,” said Sentes. “The licences have a life expectancy (some a two-year term and longer). However, WTC said you either sell them back to us or when they expire you have nothing. He was left with no choices.”

WTC couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sentes added that when the Providence Equity Partners took over WTC, the philosophy changed from different people having licenses to run events to them controlling all of them.

“It’s been the intent of WTC for the last many, many months. Graham has not been willing,” she said. “They are the owners. When they say this is the way It’s going to go, they don’t leave you many options. In fact, they don’t leave you any options.”

With the race three weeks away, Sentes doesn’t want to see the celebration to be tarnished with nearly 3,000 athletes registered.

“This is a grand occasion. Again representing the popularity of our location,” she said. “Our grand vistas, our course is beautiful from start to finish. It’s a challenging course.”

As for the future of Subaru Ironman Canada, Sentes said that is to be determined. Sentes said that the city will have a press conference after their Aug. 7 meeting and they might know more then.