It’s a sunny Wednesday morning in Penticton, and the ever-familiar northerly winds are already blowing, putting a noticeable chop in the waters of Okanagan Lake. On shore is a site that hasn’t been seen here in a decade, that of Ironman flags adorning Lakeshore Drive.
A hurricane of change has happened in the world of triathlon since Kendra Lee and Matt Russell topped the podium here on August 26, 2012. There’s been COVID, dozens of new Ironman options, the PTO and there’s also been Lionel Sanders.
Sure, there’s been racing of one sort or another since the Ironman packed its bags and moved to Whistler for an eight-year stint, but the replacements, including Challenge Penticton, SuperLeague, IronSoul and the ITU Long Course World Championships never captured the imagination, nor drew the numbers of the fabled M-Dot event.
But now the circus is back in town, and hopefully for good, at least as far as many locals are concerned. To show that this modestly-sized city in the South Okanagan is “all in” for the Iron-Ressurection, the city commissioned a mural to celebrate the Ironman’s return. Wednesday afternoon, the mayor, along with the artists and representatives from Ironman unveiled the piece, known as Movement and Motion.
“Ironman Canada embodies a lot of what makes Penticton such a special place,” said Mayor John Vassilaki.
With a field of upwards of 2,000, about 500 more than the last Ironman held in Whistler, it would that Penticton is getting validation of its special place in Ironman history from the international triathlon community. Whether the healthy numbers are from the novelty factor or the nostalgia factor, the race’s popularity and its importance to both Ironman and Penticton are significant.
Ironman race announcer, Steve King says the return of the race not only brings in dollars for the community, but also a sense of pride and purpose.
No doubt hundreds of Ironvets will be overjoyed at the return of Steve King to their race. King will be on his “throne,” as usual, announcing athletes as they crest Richter Pass on the cycle route, along Lakeshore Drive on the run, and he will also be sharing finish line duties with Tom Ziebart and Carissa Galloway.
Also returning to the race, albeit for the final time, is Subaru. The car manufacturer has been the title sponsor of the race since 1997, but in a recent business decision, Ironman has decided to part ways with the Japanese car manufacturer.
Ironman Canada starts at 6:30 AM on Sunday August 28.