Elizabeth Lyles cools herself off while running in the Challenge Penticton Long course distance last year. Challenge Penticton has nearly 500 athletes competing in this years event set for July 23. Western News file photo

Challenge Penticton attracts field of nearly 500 triathletes

A $15,000 CDN pro prize purse up for grab in Challenge Penticton

With all the attention on the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Multisport World Championship Festival, it can be easy to over look Challenge Penticton.

The triathlon is still taking place, a month earlier with nearly 500 taking on the Challenge July 23.

“I think athletes are excited that we’re doing it. I think a lot of people expected us fully to not do the event this year,” said race director Michael Brown. “I felt it important to not only the community, and obviously for the economy, that we’re still bringing close to 500 athletes to town.”

Related: Penticton triathletes win 2016 Challenge Penticton long course

Included in that total are about 10 professionals. This year’s event features the standard distance of a 1.5 kilometre swim, 45-km bike and 10.5-km run, the half distance of 1.9-km/90-km/21.1-km, the half relay of the same distance as the half and the aqua bike, a 1.9-km swim and 90-km bike.

The pro’s will have a CDN $15,000 prize purse to chase. Among the pros are Mackenzie Madison and Nathan Killam.

“The event is going to be as fierce and as competitive as it always is,” he said. “We’re excited to have a pro race. We feel it’s important to offer pro prize money. These pro athletes don’t always have an opportunity to make money. We’re happy to give them that opportunity.”

Brown said there is a really good vibe about the event this year.

“We have a ton of athletes that are coming to train during that week,” said Brown, adding that many entered the Peach Classic Triathlon on Sunday, then stay this week to train.

Challenge has really good local age-group athletes, some on the verge of becoming pros, or were, he added.

Brown said Challenge Penticton is a complement to the ITU. It’s their intention to make sure the event was used as a test event. They will use many of the same volunteers, and captains. He said it’s not very the chance arises to run an event on the same race course they will use six weeks later for the world championship. They will use the same bike course as ITU with the exception of the Summerland loop.

“It gives a lot of people that are racing in August a chance to go out and race the course and have a better feel for the course come August.”

Brown wants to see the community support the event and celebrate the athletes, and emphasized the need for volunteers for both events.

“Get out and get involved and we love the community engagement in Penticton,” he said.

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