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Nearly 200 attended the Valley First Challenge Penticton open house at the Ramada Inn April 9. Most liked what they heard from co-race directors Kevin Cutjar and Michael Brown and their plans  going forward. There was applause and cheers with a renewal of a relationship developed with the Penticton Indian Band (PIB). Councillor Joseph Pierre expressed his appreciation, especially when that relatioship with Ironman never came to fruition.

“It’s actually awesome that we are now becoming a part of this family of Challenge,” said Pierre, adding that they approach VFCP with open arms and hearts. “Even though there was a change in the triathlon system, and we now had the Challenge here, the triathlon is always going to be here. It’s just part of what Penticton is now. The band is happy to be able to host. Even though it’s on a small part of our land, there is potential in the future to have more of the track go on our areas of our reserves.”

Cutjar let the crowd in on their thinking behind revamping the run course to have part of it on the river channel.

“That’s a beautiful part of Penticton,” said Cutjar. “A lot of people that come here want to run the channel. They want to see all those people floating down the river. That’s part of Penticton. Why not make that part of the course? It happens to be flatter, potential to be faster.”

Former Ultraman Canada champ Dave Matheson loves that.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Matheson, who is entering the full distance course. “Likely created a faster, flatter course is very appealing to a lot of people. Definitely appealing to me. I like fast courses.

“I think the crowds are going to give a bit of motivation to keep going,” he continued. “You still have quite a bit of running to do.”

There was also discussion about doing things for triathlon clubs as they are considered the backbone of the sport. Cutjar also said they want to recognize athletes who have completed 10 or more full distance triathlons in Penticton with the Legends program. Since the first race in 1983, events have been run as the Canadian Ultra Distance Triathlon, Ironman Canada and now Challenge Penticton. The full distance consists of a 3.8 kilometre swim, 180 km cycle and a 42.2 km marathon run.

Penticton is the longest standing host city of a full distance triathlon in North America as it enters its 33rd year and third year as a Challenge event. Regardless of which versions athletes have competed, Valley First Challenge Penticton 2015 entrants who have previously completed 10 or more will be recognized at the pre-race welcome banquet with a special award and will compete in their event wearing a special race number signifying their “Legend” status.

“To complete just one full distance triathlon is a huge achievement for many athletes” said Cutjar on the Challenge Penticton website. “We’d like to recognize those who make a lifestyle out of the sport and come back year after year, to improve on their times and inspire others to take on the challenge. They help to make the sport and Penticton’s long-standing event so special and deserve to be recognized as ambassadors or legends of our sport.”

Matheson, who would need to compete in the full distance two more times after this year, said that is a great idea.

“There is so much history in this town from this race,” he said. “They deserve to be recognized. I know other races do that sort of thing. Why not recognize the legends. Keep them coming back. It’s motivating for people who are almost there.”