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LOOK BACK 2013: Challenging year for Challenge Penticton

Penticton athlete Jeffrey Symonds took first place in Challenge Penticton 2013. The event replaced Ironman Canada which ran in Penticton for 30 years.
Image Credit: Richard Lam; Getty Images
December 31, 2013 - 9:42 AM

PENTICTON - Triathlons are arguably one of the most demanding sports but it seems arranging such events is equally as tough.

Penticton ended its 30-year relationship with Ironman Canada in 2012 and started up with Challenge Penticton for 2013. The goal was to give everyone, including the athletes, more to do. There was a 1.9-kilometre swim, 90 km bike ride and a 21.1 km run. There was also a parade, an expo, a party, a massive channel float and a street dance.

Even with all the planning Challenge got off to a rough start in its inaugural year with a roll-call of 1,400 athletes, about half of the 2,700 who showed up for Ironman in 2012. Penticton athlete Jeffrey Symonds managed a first place position over all.

After the big race the Challenge Penticton board decided to cut a player from the team to make room for what the board called more specialized positions. General manager Barb Haynes was hired for Challenge Penticton 2012. The non-profit Penticton Triathlon Race Society released her from the position and race director Laura Carleton.

"It was a brand new race to the city, we've had races here for 31 years (and) we were starting from scratch with lots of local knowledge with how previous races were run," Society president Paulette Rennie said. "Obviously, when your business grows or changes you have to make changes structurally."

Rennie said the position was terminated, considered unnecessary moving forward and it is definitely not a reflection of Haynes' tremendous work and general manager expertise. She said Challenge didn't need a generalist manager in the top spot. It will instead bring on people on long term or short term contracts.

The society president also hoped people don't just focus on the staffing changes.

"I think the one thing people aren't recognizing in all of this controversy right now, is the good things this race brought to this city, that injected money back into community businesses."

Rennie has been asked several times how many athletes have registered for Challenge Penticton 2014 but declined to give those numbers.

While two familiar faces were let go two others returned to triathlon work.

Runner and Peach City Athletics Steve Brown will be the race operations director in 2014 and fitness professional Kelly Hopkins will be the events and marketing manager after leading a professional field program last year.

To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at, call 250-488-3065, send tweets to @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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