Registration has opened for the long-awaited return of Ironman Canada to Penticton – the race is slated for August 28, 2022. The oldest long-course triathlon in North America, the Ironman Canada event was one of the first Ironman qualifying races.
The first long-distance race took place in Penticton in 1983 as 26 athletes hit Lake Okanagan on August 20. A few years later it would become an official Ironman event and from there things took off. Renowned for its amazing community support, athletes clamoured to be part of the race, some even sleeping outside registration after they’d finished to ensure they’d get a spot for the following year’s race.
In 2013 Ironman Canada moved to Whistler, but, according to Ironman Canada race director, Susie Ernesting, the Ironman spirit never left the city.
“Local athletes and B.C. athletes never left Pencticton – every time I was there you saw athletes everywhere,” Ernsting says. “People still went to ride the Ironman course every year. Everyone has their own Ironman story from Penticton and the community has always taken a lot of ownership for the event because it was one of the original Ironman races.”
That enthusiasm was evident when it was announced that Ironman would be returning to Penticton in 2020 – the race filled up quickly as athletes clamoured to return to one of the sport’s favourite venues.
Then COVID hit and derailed things. The event couldn’t be held in 2020 and was postponed from its original August date in 2021 to later in September, but changing provincial rules meant the race couldn’t happen this year, either.
Which means that by the time the race takes place next year it will have been 10 years since Ironman hosted an event in Penticton.
Maintaining the legacy
Ernsting is keen to maintain the spirit of the popular event when it returns next year. The one-loop swim remains, but transition has been moved as there is now a hotel tower where the old transition used to be. The popular one-loop bike course remains, although the out-and-back section has been changed to utilize better road conditions. The run course has changed, though – it will now feature two loops that will pass through town multiple times, which will allow friends, family and supporters lots of opportunity to see the athletes during the marathon.
With a number of registered athletes choosing to switch their entry to other events this year, spots are now available for next year’s race in Pencticton. You can register for next year’s event here.