After a decade away, a popular long-distance triathlon is returning home.
This summer, IRONMAN Canada will be back in the heart of the Okanagan.
It’s a welcome homecoming for race director Susie Ernsting, who last raced in Penticton in 2010 and is returning in 2022 at the helm of race operations.
Never will you feel as welcomed as an athlete, as a volunteer, as a race organizer, as you will in Penticton. They have so much ownership and pride in the history and the importance of IRONMAN Canada.Susie Ernsting – IRONMAN Canada Race Director
The race has existed in some form since 1983 and received its IRONMAN race licence in 1986. It’s one of the first IRONMAN races to be located outside of Kona. The race ran successfully in the Okanagan Valley until 2012 before moving to Whistler’s coastal mountains for eight years.
Now, IRONMAN Canada is returning to its roots.
Penticton is a legendary course in the triathlon community, known for a challenging, hilly bike course, stunning scenery and hot desert-like temperatures. It’s one of the rare bike courses these days that features just one loop. The transition is located in Okanagan Lake Park, right at the water. Beyond that, it’s incredibly spectator-friendly with the start and finish lines, and transition zone, and IRONMAN Village all within a few blocks of each other in downtown Penticton.
Unlike previous years, there’s a brand-new run course that replaces the dark and lonely run out to Okanagan Falls and back with an out-and-back section on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and through town before the historic finish on Lakeshore Drive.
“We brought the run course all into town and highlighted some of my favourite parts of Penticton and really made it a spectator-friendly course,” she says. “There’s lots of little out-and-back sections. Your friends and family can see you six or eight times on the run course without having to move.”
Ernsting says they are finding ways to honour the race’s storied past and traditions. Most will happen during the opening ceremonies, but there will be a few changes.
In the past, the race has offered a pasta dinner. It’s grown so much, that feeding thousands of athletes just isn’t feasible anymore, so instead, racers will receive vouchers to use at the restaurants in town.
“It’s a great way to encourage visitors of Penticton to try something new,” she says. “It also gives our community restaurants a chance to be involved and be part of the event.”
Also returning to the announcing team is the legendary Steve King, who’s been at the race in Penticton even before it received IRONMAN designation.
Ernsting says the race is definitely a “bucket list item.”
“You will feel so welcomed,” she says. “There’s so many people that are invested in that community into your success and making sure you have the best day.”
When the athletes line up for the start next to the giant peach at Rotary Park on Aug. 28, 2022, Pentictonites will be ready for them. Welcome back, they’ll say. Welcome home.
General registration for 2022 is now open at www.ironman.com/im-canada-register.