Coloradans Wendy Wyskiel and Rebecca Ball take on Ultra520K Canada

By Khem Suthiwan

The heart of the Okanagan Valley of eastern British Columbia, the sport of triathlon has its roots in the history of the area. From the famous IRONMAN Canada that will be returning to Penticton in 2020 and original home of the Ultra520K Canada, triathletes from all over the world flock to this hidden gem located about 41 miles north of the US-Canadian border.

Tomorrow on August 3rd, two athletes from the Centennial State of Colorado will embark on a 3-day triathlon journey through the “OK” Valley, Wendy Wyskiel (57) of Longmont and Rebecca Ball (41) of Highlands Ranch. To get here they had to submit applications to the race organization, “qualify” with full-ironman distance race finish times under 14.5 hours, and be invited by the race director. Registrations are usually capped to around 35 athletes, and the application process begins approximately 2 years in advance.

Rebecca Ball & Wendy Wyskiel

Over the course of three days, Wyskiel and Ball, along with 22 other athletes representing 8 countries will cover a total of 520km of swimming, biking, and running broken down as shown in the picture above. Each day athletes will have exactly 12 hours to cross the finish line. Athletes also have to provide their own support crew, which will serve as their “mobile” aid station throughout their entire race.

Personally I’ve had the honor of coaching Wyskiel the last 10 months and will be serving as her support crew captain and kayaker during the swim portion of the race. Previous to that I was also the support crew captain and kayaker for local triathlon coach Mary Carey who finished the race in 2018. Carey has also returned to Penticton as a crew member for Ball.

2019 Ultra520K Canada Athletes

The vibe here is unlike any other. Amped up egos and talks of PRs or time goals, you won’t find it anywhere. To show up to start line healthy and finish the race in its entirety is enough for these tough souls. Three days of racing, anything can happen.

Stay tuned here at 303Triathlon.com to see how the rest of the weekend unfolds!

IRONMAN officially coming back to Penticton

By Khem Suthiwan

It’s official! IRONMAN Canada is coming back to where it all started in the Okanagan Valley upon the shores of Okanagan Lake. Athletes will be able to partake in frozen goodies from the iconic giant peach (The Peach Ice Cream) and authentic poutine from establishments like burger 55.

IRONMAN Canada (Penticton) holds a special place in many people’s hearts. It was the first IRONMAN race in North America. For me it was my first ever IRONMAN finish, that race was the last time IRONMAN Canada was in Penticton (2012), and the 30th Anniversary.

Aside from Kona, this was by far my favorite 140.6 race on the circuit, and the oldest and longest running IRONMAN race (outside of Kona). That last year our favorite IronNun Sister Madonna Buder’s raced. There were also three friends known as the Three Dick Eds (Ed Wong, Ed Russell, and Dick Enslie), who have finished all but one of 30 races since its inception. So much history here and we are glad to know that it’s not over.

Here’s the official word from Penticton:

Ironman coming home

From Castanet.net
By Colin Dacre

Ironman is coming home to Penticton.

City council voted unanimously Tuesday to have city staff move forward with negotiating a five-year agreement with Ironman Canada to bring the iconic race back to the city.

“Ironman coming back to Penticton is like a divorced couple getting back together again,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield, explaining he’s “delighted” by the idea.

While a contract needs to be finalized, councillors heard the preliminary proposal will see Penticton host the full-length edition of the race for five years starting in 2020 at an annual cost to taxpayers of $299,000 in cash and $111,000 in-kind support.

Mayor John Vassilaki was on council with Judy Sentes in 2012 when Penticton dumped Ironman during a disagreement over finances.

“At that time it was the right thing to do in the circumstances,” he said. “But you know, times change and we have to change with the times.”

“We need to bring this event back to the community,” Vassilaki, calling the required outlay required of taxpayers “smart money.”

Since Ironman left, MB Events has organized a triathlon in Penticton first under the Challenge banner and now Super League. Both races did not attract numbers anywhere near what Ironman did, although the ITU World Championships in 2017 drew more than 3,500 athletes.

Earlier Tuesday council heard a presentation from Ironman representative Dave Christen, who highlighted $8.8M in visitor spending recorded during the 2017 Ironman in Whistler.

He shared figures that showed the average athlete comes from a household income of $247,000, is 40 years old and is 92 per cent university educated.

“This is where Ironman Canada was born,” Christen said.“The energy that we built here, is something that we try to emulate everywhere else.”

Photo: Colin Dacre
Ironman’s Dave Christen before council Tuesday

The required $663,000 host city contribution is being softened considerably by the business community, with local hotels, Tourism Penticton and others pitching in $200,000. It’s hoped additional sponsors can be found.

The proposal expects 2,600 athletes in the first year, which would translate to upwards of 10,000 visitors to Penticton during Ironman weekend.

A large crowd packed into council chambers broke into applause and cheers when the unanimous vote passed.

Read the full article here