Subaru Ironman Canada's gruelling triathlon will return to Penticton in 2020

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      It’s official. After seven years in Whistler, the province's most challenging athletic event is moving back to its original home, Penticton.

      On July 28, the final Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon will take place in Whistler.

      It includes a 3.8-kilometre swim in Alta Lake, a 180-kilometre bike ride, and a 42.2-kilometre run that finishes near the Whistler Olympic Plaza.

      Next summer, the Ironman Canada competition will return to the Okanagan Valley tourist destination, where it was held from 1983 to 2012.

      “We are excited to return to Penticton, the genesis of Ironman Canada and one of our longest-running events,” Andrew Messick, president and CEO for the Ironman Group, said in a news release. “With over 30 years of history, we expect that the return of Ironman Canada to this unique venue will energize both the veteran athlete who participated in the original event and a whole new generation of athletes who will come to experience the Okanagan tradition that has enriched this amazing race venue.

      "With many of the same elements from the original event blended with the enhancements we have made over the years, this race is a must for all athletes," Messick continued. "At the same time, we thank Whistler for being an amazing host over the last several years.”

      The first Ironman event in Canada was held in Penticton.

      It was founded by Vancouver fitness guru Ron Zalko, who was also the race director and architect.

      The Ironman remained in Penticton every year until 2012 before moving to Whistler.

      Vancouver fitness pioneer Ron Zalko (seen with actor Amanda Seyfried) was the founder and architect of the first Ironman triathlon in Penticton in 1983.

      Next year, Ironman athletes will once again experience the joys of Okanagan Lake with a 3.8-kilometre swim.

      That will be followed by a single-sloop 180-kilometre cycling leg through Okanagan wine country. The final and perhaps most punishing component, the 42-kilometre run, ends up back in Penticton.

      “We are truly honored to have Ironman Canada return to the Okanagan Valley,” Penticton mayor John Vassilaki said. “Penticton has enjoyed some great memories made throughout the years of this epic event and we are happy to know that there will be many more made in the coming years. We know that Penticton has been and will continue to be a premier destination for the sport. We are happy to welcome Ironman back and offer athletes from around the globe the challenge and experience of a lifetime.”

      Penticton is between Okanagan and Skaha Lake in the South Okanagan region of B.C.

      The city is a popular tourist destination because it's a short drive from the wine-producing Naramata Bench and the Golden Mile of wineries between Oliver and Osoyoos.