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It is bigger than the Vancouver Olympics: How the 10-day Multisport festival will unfold in B.C.

sports

The Multisport festival: How the 10-day event will unfold

An epic five-race event combining running, swimming and cycling will be taking place in Penticton, B.C. Thousands of athletes, both professional and amateur, will compete in the championship for the first time

Athletes racing in a swimming competition as part of a triathlon

The population of Penticton B.C. is going to grow dramatically as it plays host to the first Multisport World Championships, a gathering of some 3,600 athletes (mostly recreational) to compete in five epic race events. The races are various combinations of running, swimming, and cycling, and the world championships for these events were previously staged separately. The oldest is the duathlon – running-cycling-running – going back to 1990. The idea to combine different sports into one contest is age-old. The ancient Olympics featured a pentathlon of running, throwing (javelin and discus), jumping, and wrestling. At the current Olympics, there is triathlon (women and men), the modern pentathlon, women's heptathlon, and men's decathlon.

At the Multisport World Championships, most of the competitors are amateurs with day jobs. There is a small cadre of top-end racers who make a living in such competitions. The biggest single prize available in Penticton is $10,000 (U.S.) to the female and male winners of the long-distance triathlon. Overall, the event is small, a budget of about $1.5-million, with roughly a third of that coming from local and provincial funding.

Behind the fastest racers come the successful amateurs, who have qualified in a long list of age groups.

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These athletes – who all pay a registration fee of several hundred dollars – are the heart of the championships.


The Athletes

Multisport athletes are a diverse group. With abilities ranging from novice to elite, they also come in all ages. Here are a few of the many Canadians competing:

Jason Britton

Age: 37

Hometown: Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

Penticton event: Standard duathlon, aquathlon and long-distance triathlon

Race history: I've competed in 35 world-championship races across all distances of triathlon, aquathlon and duathlon since 2001. My best finish was first in aquathlon in 2007 (in the men's 25-29 age group).

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Hobbies: Triathlon training doesn't leave much time for outside hobbies, but I read, and keep current on new movies. I volunteer at local races as well, to give back for all that the sport has given me.

Best race memory: Triathlon has brought me so many great memories and friends throughout the years that it is hard to pick. From a racing perspective, in 2010 I won the age-group category of the New York City triathlon. I had my perfect race. I've been trying to recreate that race ever since.

Favourite individual sport: My background is competitive swimming but cycling is now my passion.

Postrace indulgence: Nachos with guacamole, every time.

Holly Henry

Age: 19

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Hometown: Victoria

Penticton event: Cross-triathlon (junior women's)

Race history: I haven't done any cross-triathlons yet and I'm really excited. I've competed in many regular sprint triathlons, though, including a fourth-place finish this year at the junior national championships in Ottawa.

Hobbies: Singing to the music in the car, making movies, playing with my dog Gemmi and riding my bike.

Best race memory: One of my favourites is from Ottawa this year. The juniors and the elites all raced together in the heats and finals. In the final, I surprised myself with a great swim, coming third out of the water, even among the elites, and then had a quick transition and was first onto the bike.

Favourite individual sport: Biking. Mountain and road, I love them both.

Postrace indulgence: Chocolate. Popcorn is also one of my favourites and not just postrace … sometimes pre.

Cathy Mckibbon

Age: 63

Hometown: Tecumseh, Ont.

Penticton event: Sprint duathlon, women's 60-64.

Race history: Penticton will be my 34th world championship since 1993. I will compete at the triathlon world championships in Rotterdam in September. My first triathlon was in 1986. My best finish at a world championship was seventh place in the duathlon (women 40-44) in Tasmania in 1994.

Hobbies: Reading, yoga, and spending time with my grandsons.

Best race memory: Bronze medal in Calgary at the Canadian triathlon championships in 1993, which qualified me for my first world championship in Manchester, England.

Favourite individual sport: Cycling

Postrace indulgence: Watermelon and pizza

Stefan Daniel

Age: 20

Hometown: Calgary

Penticton event: Duathlon (men under-23)

Race history: Silver medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games (men's triathlon, PT4); 2017 World Para Series Edmonton (first); 2016 Canadian cross-country championships (junior men, fourth); 2015 world paratriathlon championships (first, men's PT4); 2015 Canadian national triathlon championships (first, junior elite)

Hobbies: Hiking

Best race memory: Winning the Canadian cross-country championships (youth) in 2014

Favourite individual sport: Running

Postrace indulgence: Wings and beer

Matthew Sharpe

Age: 26

Hometown: Campbell River, B.C.

Penticton event: Aquathlon (elite)

Race history: Canadian junior and under-23 triathlon champion; ITU World Cup podium; 2014 Commonwealth Games (21st)

Hobbies: Reading, brunch with friends

Best race memory: 2016 ITU World Cup in Montreal, a silver medal. Success after a long period of injuries and setbacks.

Favourite individual sport: Cycling.

Postrace indulgence: Local beer, ideally a Driftwood Fat Tug IPA.


History of the triathlon


1974
The first triathlon is staged, in San Diego
1978
The first Ironman is held in Hawaii. The next year, a Sports Illustrated feature on the race noted that the athletes shared “an addiction to inordinate amounts of exercise”
1990
The first multisport world championship is held, a duathlon
2000
Triathlon makes its debut at the Summer Olympics. The men’s gold is won by Canadian Simon Whitfield
SOURCES: ENVRON GEOMATICS, TRIATHLON CANADA, GWNTRIATHLON.COM IMAGES/PHOTOS: GOOGLE EARTH, TRIATHLON CANADA, SPORTBRAND CANADA

$1.5-million

Budget for the event, of which about one-third is publicly funded

$250,000

The City of Penticton's spending, half in cash and half in services

$10,000 (U.S.)

The top prize money available, to the winners of the women's and men's long-distance triathlon

$200,000 (U.S.)

Total prize money available

$500 (U.S.)

Entry cost for an athlete in the long-distance triathlon

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