Spartan North American Championship and Ironman Canada hit Okanagan on same weekend

Big White ski area near Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Spartan

It’s going to be a busy weekend in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley from Aug. 27 to 28 – the long-awaited return of Ironman Canada to Penticton is scheduled for the Sunday, while for the first time ever Spartan will hold its North American Championship outside the United States – the event will be held at Big White Mountain, just outside of Kelowna, which is about 100 km from Penticton.

The elite athletes competing at the Spartan North American Championship will compete over a 21 km course with 30 obstacles. There’s US$62,000 in prize money being offered for the event. Athletes need to qualify for the races at Big White – elite and age group athletes must finish in the top-10 at a Spartan event in North America until Aug. 21, 2022. The Kelowna Spartan race weekend will also include a Spartan Ultra (50 km with 60 obstacles), Spartan Super (10 km with 25 obstacles) and kids races.

“We are excited to finally bring the championships to Canada,” said Joe De Sena, founder and CEO of Spartan. “We’re putting together an epic course that will push our athletes to their limits. The terrain is no joke. But Spartans are used to a challenge — the question is, who wants it most?”

Long one of the most popular and iconic races on the Ironman circuit, Ironman Canada was set to return to Penticton in 2020 after an eight-year absence. The first long-distance triathlon was held in Penticton in 1983, with the race becoming an official Ironman qualifier in 1986. In 2013, though, Penticton chose to host a Challenge event rather than Ironman, and Ironman moved the event to Whistler, B.C., the ski resort that hosted some of the Olympic events for the 2010 Games. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 races, so this year’s race will mean its been a decade since an Ironman race was held in Penticton.

Now it looks like the Okanagan Valley will truly be a hub for fit multisport enthusiasts during the last weekend of August as the long-distance triathletes will be sharing the scenic area renowned for its spectacular mountain vistas with some of North America’s top obstacle racers.