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Challenge Penticton Gets New Operators

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Jeff Symonds wins Challenge Penticton 2013

Challenge Penticton has found its new operators in Kevin Cutjar and Michael Brown. The 2014 race will still be operated by the Penticton Triathlon Race Society, but for 2015, the city has recommended the Challenge Family negotiate a licence with business partners Cutjar and Brown. Cutjar is a former professional triathlete who won Ultraman World Championships (1995) and has a number of top 10 finishes at Ironman Canada. He also has substantial coaching experience. He developed strong networks in the triathlon community assisting with Ironman for 20 years and as a former owner and race director of the B.C. Duathlon Championships. Michael Brown is also a triathlete and owner/operator of the Great White North triathlon in Stony Plain, Alta., which attracts over 1,000 athletes.

“Kevin Cutjar is well-known in Penticton by athletes and the community for his passion and dedication to the sport of triathlon, and his partner, Michael Brown, has experience with race operations and management. Council selected this partnership because of the vision they presented to make Challenge Penticton Canada the iconic race we believe it can be,” said Mayor Garry Litke. “We sincerely thank all those who responded to the EOI process. Seeing the interest confirms the Penticton triathlon race legacy will continue.”

The Cutjar-Brown proposal featured an increased focus on triathlete communication, week-long festival, maintenance of the iconic single-loop race course and commitment to a guaranteed five-year debt repayment plan. The Challenge Family must negotiate an agreement with the successful proponent to organize and operate the 2015 Challenge Penticton Canada.

“We think one of our bigger strengths is our reach into the broader triathlon community, not only in our local region,” said Cutjar. “We’ve built relationships with influential people, clubs and coaches and these are the connections we have that will aim to develop and encourage people back into Penticton to train and do the race.”

Cutjar and Brown were one of three groups that filed expressions of interest with the city to take over the race. Cutjar admits it’s a big task they have taken on to bring the Penticton race back to the levels it was at during the Ironman decades. “Ironman is a massive player in the triathlon world. That is always going to be a challenge to go up against them, but I think if we can become the best other option and really look after the athletes and make sure the experience … the Challenge event is better than anything else they experience, that is going to be the focus for us,” said Cutjar. “We’ve got enough experience as athletes and in the triathlon industry to know that it is those sort of things that encourage people to go back to a race. It is the experience they have there and the relationships they build with the people that organize the race and how they are treated by the race,” he added.