A key figure in the growth of the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon over the last 15 years has decided to step aside.
Richard Montgomery, who took over as president of the Apple Triathlon Society in 2001, will resign from the post following the 33rd running of the annual sporting event this weekend in Kelowna.
Montgomery wanted to make room for new blood and new ideas, while also devoting more time to his business.
“I think we needed to keep the organization dynamic and to do that needed to bring in new people,” Montgomery said. “After 15 years, it’s time. It probably should have been in the last five years but we wanted to make sure we had the right people in place.
“There are also things I wanted to do personally, my law office is busier than it’s ever been so I wanted to devote more time to that part of my life.”
The Apple has experienced tremendous growth since Montgomery and longtime race director Randy Sparrow began working together in the early 2000s.
During that time, the core volunteer organizing group has increased from 12 to 52 people.
As a result, the number of participants in the various events has expanded from about 350 to a minimum of 1,000 over the last several years.
For a time, until 2010 when the national championships were a main feature of the Apple, as many as 1,600 athletes competed.
This year, close to 1,200 people will take part in an event that has also gained its share of international acclaim.
“It’s grown so much, it’s been good for the community with the international exposure we’ve had, and the economic impact has been been very positive as well,” said Montgomery. “All the spokes in the wheel have had a part in the success we’ve had and we can hold our heads up high about what we’ve been able to do over the years.”
Competition manager Randy Sparrow, who has served as vice president of the Apple in the past, said Montgomery helped lend the event both stability and credibility.
“He had good input, he was well organized and brought a different level of organization to the event,” said Sparrow. “Richard’s expertise and connections in the business world were a benefit and helped raise the profile, from just a regular sporting event to a truly international event.”
Montgomery leaves the organization encouraged by how the Apple Triathlon Society has grown and evolved over the last decade and a half.
But what might be most satisfying for Montgomery is the positive impact the race can have on people’s lives.
“It’s been a great experience, I’ve met some really inspiring people,” he said. “One of my favourite things to do is to go down to the finish line, to see how happy people are with themselves, what they’ve done, hugging family and friends.
“You feel like you’ve done a pretty good job when you can send them away happy.”
The Apple Triathlon Society will name its successors to Montgomery in the next several days.
As always, the Apple Triathlon Society is looking for volunteers for this weekend’s series of races.
For more information, visit apple triathlon.com/volunteers.
All volunteers will be invited to an appreciation party following the event.