Penticton’s sports event calendar just got busier for the summer of 2017.
The Peach City will be the home of four International Triathlon Union (ITU) world championships.
Penticton has been selected by the ITU executive board to host the first Multisport World Championships Festival.
The festival will feature a duathlon, long distance triathlon, aquathlon and cross triathlon championship races spanning 10 days. The announcement was made by the ITU early Tuesday morning.
“We’re excited. The eyes of the triathlon world are going to be on Penticton,” said Challenge Penticton co-race director Michael Brown, who submitted a bid letter with Kevin Cutjar earlier this year.
With the help of Sheila O’Kelly, chief executive officer of the Edmonton Grand Final ITU race, and support from the City of Penticton, Brown and Cutjar saw this as a chance to get the spotlight of the triathlon world back onto Penticton.
“It’s going to create a festival that no one has ever really seen before within triathlon,” said Brown. “It was an opportunity we didn’t feel we could pass up.”
Brown said he knows they can create a world-class festival that will live up to the athletes’ expectations. He added they were bidding against other cities with major populations.
“We had a great amount of interest from cities in hosting an ITU event, and received some truly incredible bids for not only triathlon, but also for multisport races,” said ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado in a press release. “Triathlon has a very bright future with so many spectacular sites secured to host races in the next several years.”
A story published on The Association of Summer Oympic International Federations website on May 1 reported the other bids came from Odense, the Danish Island of Funen, Poznań, Poland and Okinawa Islands of Japan. The festival will offer elite and mass participation races and is expected to attract more than 2,500 age-group athletes, with their families and support teams, helping to generate up to 45,000 visitor nights, with the average visitor expected to stay a minimum of 5.6 nights, and the races are set to be contested over two weekends.
Brown said the media coverage will include international outlets, but there are still logistics to work out since they just received word of their win.
“We were both elated,” said Brown. “We’re just super excited for the community and we need the community support on this. We need the triathlon volunteer army to come out and help us.”
Brown added this will not replace Challenge Penticton, which is “alive and well.”
“We’re looking at this as a way to spring board Challenge back to the level that we think it can get to,” said Brown, adding that the ITU multisport world championship is a one-time event. “We’re trying to use this as a way to get the eyes back on Penticton.”