Ironman craze has arrived

Welcome to the craze that is Ironman, Subaru Ironman Canada

Welcome to the craze that is Ironman.

Penticton’s population grows from its minute size of 33,000 for a small town, as many here like to say, and doubles in the soaking hot summer and becomes a massive metropolis for a short period thanks to Ironman triathletes. (I hope you can tell I’m being very sarcastic, or for people who like big words, facetious.)

And the complaints are out because riders are going six wide along the road. Can’t we share the road people? And I’m talking to triathletes here. Seriously, the bike lanes in some areas of Penticton are wide enough to have bikes two-aside. You do have a right to be on the road, just not to own it.

To get a little bit serious though, Sunday hasn’t even hit and things have gone crazy with Subaru Ironman Canada. I will rewind a bit. At the end of July, news broke out that the World Triathlon Corporation was forcing Graham Fraser to hand over his licence to Ironman Canada. In 2009 he had sold the events, except Ironman Canada, to the WTC. It created some thinking with regards to the future of the race.

Fast forward to today, and I received an email from the City of Penticton’s communications officer. The release said members of the media were invited to a press conference in regards to “the future of triathlon in the City of Penticton.”

The big news? That Challenge Penticton (see story on front page) will be the new triathlon in the city. There is positive response from people on Facebook about this shift.

Then a story is published on the website that the WTC is not giving up the race. And so the fight begins with the licence agreement.

Perhaps it’s time for a change.

There will be a change in who claims the championship in the men’s and women’s fields. Neither Jordan Rapp nor Mary Beth Ellis are competing.

Rapp said a “confluence of circumstances” resulted in him not returning as he had some races planned earlier in the year that got moved. With a desire to compete in Kona this year, he won Ironman Texas and New York, which gave him the necessary points, 6,000, to qualify for the world championship. A big part of the reason he didn’t enter Subaru Ironman Canada was because of its lower point total and prize purse. The winner on both sides will received $5,000. Ironman Canada has become a lower points race.

“It’s tough, because it’s the case with a lot of the big classic races,” said Rapp. “Like Ironman New Zealand, this year was increased, but the year before it was decreasing. It was the oldest Ironman outside of the world championship.  It’s tough in some ways seeing them (IMC) taking a back seat. Canada is the very last race along with Louisville in Kentucky before Hawaii.”

WTC chanced the point system in qualifying for Kona to have the best athletes in it.

While Rapp understands the move, he is also disappointed by it because it’s still a draw for him to race in his adopted “hometown” and the one, which he built his career. He’s also troubled by the move because it comes on the triathlon’s 30th anniversary.

“This is a huge deal to have the 30th anniversary,” he said.

Because of that move Rapp said he could see less pros taking on the race.

While it appears that Subaru Ironman Canada is on its way out paying the pros less, Challenge Penticton enters the picture offering a $61,500 Canadian payout from first to 10th place.

What a way to go out.

Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News.