The Legend Returns: Penticton prepares to host SUBARU IRONMAN Canada in the final weekend of August
(This article is sponsored by the City of Penticton.)
The gorgeous City of Penticton has been drawing tourists from across B.C. for decades thanks to its sand, sunshine, wine, and stunning scenery. But some residents of the province don’t realize that it’s also the endurance-sport capital of B.C.
Back in 1983, 24 athletes jumped into Lake Okanagan to compete in the city’s first Ultra Triathlon. Three years later, Penticton hosted the first IRONMAN race outside of Hawaii.
It featured a cool 3.8-km swim in Okanagan Lake, followed by a 180-km cycling route with glorious views of the local wine country, and ended with a gruelling 42.2-km run showcasing the city and surrounding area.
Over the years, SUBARU IRONMAN Canada has tested the endurance of some of the world’s greatest athletes, who come from far and wide to compete in a spectacular setting.
This month, racing fans from Metro Vancouver can visit Penticton in the final weekend of August for the 2022 edition of SUBARU IRONMAN Canada. The competition has returned to the city after being in Whistler from 2013 to 2019.
Because of a pandemic hiatus in 2020 and 2021, it means that the SUBARU IRONMAN CANADA on August 28 will be the first such race in Penticton since 2012.
This year’s course includes a swim in picturesque Lake Okanagan, a single-loop bike course through rolling hills with panoramic views, and a run featuring two loops through vineyards, orchards, and cheering crowds in the downtown.
There’s no better spot in B.C. this month for a family “racecation”.
“Athletes love coming here because we are known for lining the streets and cheering them on along the route,” Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said on news that the race was returning to his city. “We also have such a supportive community of volunteers, who play a huge role in the success of this event.”
Located on the ancestral territory of the Sylix Okanagan people, Penticton’s name literally means “a place to stay forever”. It’s an accurate description for anyone who’s watched films like My American Cousin or Drinkwater, which showcase the magnificent beauty of Penticton and the surrounding area.
Nestled between Okanagan Lake to the north and Skaha Lake to the south, Penticton is blessed with more than 2,000 hours of sunshine every year, making it an ideal destination for visitors. That’s one of several reasons why cyclists from across Western Canada converge on the nearby Kettle Valley Rail Trail and floaters flock to the Okanagan River Channel for some incredible rafting.
Did we mention the wineries? There are more than 170 in the South Okanagan, including more than 80 within a 15- to 20-minute drive of Penticton.
In fact, Penticton has many award winners, and Naramata Bench has distinguished itself as a world-class winemaking region.
The whole area has become B.C.’s version of Bordeaux with new wineries opening on a regular basis because of the phenomenal terroir. It’s all here—Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and others. All you have to do is get in your vehicle and drive around the area and stop by the various tasting rooms and winery restaurants.
Penticton is home to eight craft breweries and has been named the craft beer capital of B.C. by Lonely Planet, due to it having the highest ratio of breweries to population in all of B.C.
For those who love farmers markets, this Okanagan city also has you covered. The Penticton Farmers’ Market in the downtown core welcomes close to 8,000 visitors every Saturday. And it features tasty treats from one of Canada’s most fertile agricultural regions.
Best of all, spectators at SUBARU IRONMAN Canada in Penticton can pick up a free fan kit with signs and stickers at the Penticton Farmers’ Market in the week leading up to the race. The family-friendly event celebrates IRONMAN winners of the past in the Circle of Champions. It’s a permanent installation in the downtown. And there’s a SUBARU IRONKIDS fun run for the little ones.
Nature lovers are also drawn to the Penticton area because of Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. It’s one more reason why the city has earned its reputation as an endurance-sport capital. Not only are there world-beating rock-climbing opportunities at Skaha Bluffs, there are also outstanding hiking trails and some precious wildlife-viewing locations. The 489-hectare park is open year-round.
So what are you waiting for? Get to Penticton in the final weekend of August and maybe it will inspire you to try a triathlon in your future.