Ironman Canada will run on the same date that it has for decades, when the race was held in Penticton, a spokesman said Monday.
Steve Meckfessel, managing director, global race operations for the Ironman parent company World Triathlon Corp., said the event has been held on the last Sunday of August for so long, that’s when participants are planning for it to be held next year.
Last month, the City of Penticton announced it was cutting its long-time ties with Ironman and going with a European group to start offering Challenge Penticton, another iron-distance endurance event. But Penticton organizers are sticking with the same date.
If both events are held on the same date, they’ll be vying for participants who will have to make a choice between the two.
Meckfessel said in a telephone interview from Florida that thousands of athletes have pre-registered for Ironman Canada, knowing the date if not the location.
“In the end, we’re saddened to leave Penticton but hope to find a home for this event whether it remains in the Okanagan, or shifts to Alberta or moves to another part of B.C.,” he said.
“We’ve conducted Ironman Canada on the last Sunday of August for the last 30 years. We have no intention of restructuring our North American calendar around their decision. Our intention is to continue with operating Ironman Canada at the end of August.”
The sport of triathlon has exploded in recent years, so both events could do well despite the timing clash, Meckfessel said.
Kamloops is among at least five bidders for Ironman Canada. Also in the running are Vernon, Kelowna, Whistler and Calgary. A decision is expected around Oct. 10.
While Penticton officials said last week athlete stays have grown shorter, Meckfessel said he has seen no data to suggest those changes.
“The sport has evolved and the demands on life and the demands placed on our athletes have changed. They could be reacting to that change,” he said.
There are also more races than ever, so athletes could be choosing to mix up their events.
World Triathlon Corp. is looking for a community that has the experience and infrastructure to host a major international event, can house up to 10,000 or more participants, officials and spectators, with easy airport and road access, and be a compelling destination for onlookers and media, he said.
A minimum of 2,000 volunteers will be needed, he added.
While Penticton was critical of using volunteers to help a large corporate entity that Ironman has become, Meckfessel said it’s like that for all major events, regardless of who’s behind them.
“The need for volunteers extends across all special events, whether it’s for not-for-profit events or the Superbowl. All require volunteers. What we expect our host city partners to do is believe we’re contributing to the betterment of the community. And as a result, it’s a better way of life, a healthier way of life that we’re encouraging through our cities and through our sports.”