History

Penticton the city is virtually synonymous with long distance racing, its roots beginning in 1983 as a result of visionary founder, Ron Zalko. The municipal government of Penticton and half-dozen local supporters were amenable to Zalko’s dream to host a long-distance swim, bike and run. The modest beginnings of this race saw twenty-three men and one woman enter the waters of Lake Okanagan on August 20, 1983 to compete in what was called the Ultra Triathlon. It was then that the 21-year-old relationship with the community, organizers and competitors was born.

The upstart race garnered international recognition in 1986 when it became Ironman Canada due to its association with the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. At that time, the race joined Ironman New Zealand and Japan as one of three qualifying events for Hawaii. The impact of the coveted championship entries was immediate. Entries have climbed yearly and the event attracted predominately international fields – Americans, Europeans and Japanese treated Ironman Canada as their own.

Until 1999 Ironman Canada was the only sanctioned Ironman race in North America. Ironman Canada remained in Penticton until 2012, at which time the race became Challenge Penticton.

Part of Penticton’s appeal as a race destination is the courses, which offers truly unique race experiences. The traditional single-loop swim and bike courses, along with the out-and-back run serves up a variety of sights and challenges. Those competing will be exposed to the pristine waters of Lake Okanogan, lush farmlands, bountiful orchards and vineyards, along with arid regions and mountain passes.

In the world of triathlon, Penticton and Ironman Canada are synonymous. During race week, banners and message boards welcoming triathletes to the city. It is all part of the pride and ownership the citizens present to the world at the end of every summer, just like they have done for the last 32 years.

penticton landscapes

Culture

Nestled between Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake is Penticton, BC, meaning ‘a place to stay forever’ and home to the iconic ‘Channel’.

Tourists come from all over British Columbia to enjoy the float between our two beautiful lakes. Voted of the Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2012, visitors enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and small-town feel that Penticton offers. With over 60 wineries within a 20 minutes drive, local farmers markets, beautiful beaches and loads of festivals and events throughout the year, we have something for everyone.

Wine & Beer

Penticton is in the heart of Canadian wine country.

The Penticton Visitors Centre which lists 44 wineries within a 20-minute drive, is a good place to start touring since it also hosts a VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) boutique where staff are glad to conduct wine-tasting tutorials for anyone who wants to learn how to swirl, sniff and sip like a pro (spitting optional).

It’s fun to get out and discover the wineries, see their varied architectural styles and taste the distinct differences between winemakers and growing areas. Be sure to select a designated driver if tasting on your own, or leave the driving to somebody else and take a guided wine tour with a company like Ambrosia Tours or Top Cat Tours.

If there’s no time for touring, just stop by the Penticton Visitor Centre for a taste of the wines of the day and a comprehensive selection of some 400 labels representing more than 60 wineries, including a host of international award-winning reds, whites, fruit wines and Icewines.

Penticton’s craft beer scene continues to develop rapidly, with the area now boasting over a half dozen local craft brewers. These local breweries in Penticton produce a variety of traditional beers, including lagers, pale and dark ales, porters and stouts.

Family Friendly

Looking for some family friendly Penticton attractions? Before or after your race, consider one of the many family attractions for children in the Penticton area. There are lots of things to do in the city that are totally kid friendly, and depending on their age, you’re sure to find enough attractions to keep them happy.

For the little ones, there are splash parks at Okangan beach and Skaha beach, both with nice playgrounds, and shady places for playing when you prefer to be out of the sun.

For the older kids, outdoor adventures are endless in and around the city of Penticton, with mountain biking and hiking trails, like the Kettle Valley Trail for great sightseeing, and plenty of backcountry for exploring.

Other resources for families include:

Penticton Speedway: Oval track auto racing at the Penticton Speedway is a popular and friendly family tourist attraction. Day and night races on Saturdays and Sundays offer fun entertainment, especially the “Hit To Pass”.

Loco Landing Adventure Park LocoLanding Adventure Park has ten exciting activities and hours of fun for the whole family including mini-golf, go karts, high-level ropes course, bumper boats, bungee bounce. Walking distance from Gyro Park, LocoLanding is one of the most convenient Penticton attractions for families.

Bike Rental Featuring bikes of all shapes and sizes, pick up a rental near Okanagan Lake, where you can rent all kinds of neat pedal type rides to cruise around on.

Skateboarding The huge skate park in Penticton Canada is right along Riverside Park, near the River Channel launch. During the summer there’s lots going on, admission is free, and the park is supervised.

Vacationing

Penticton is a beautifully authentic city nestled between Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake in British Columbia. The name Penticton means ‘a place to stay forever’ and once you visit you will know why.

In addition to triathlon, tourists come from all over North America to float the iconic ‘Channel’ that drifts lazily along between our two beautiful lakes. Voted one of the Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2012, visitors enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and small-town feel that Penticton offers.

With 60 wineries within a 20-minute drive, local farmers markets, over 5 kilometers of golden sandy beaches and many wonderful festivals and events throughout the year, we have something for everyone, including families. Check out our family tab to review fun for the entire family.

Come early before your race or stay a little later and explore the brilliance that Penticton has to offer.

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