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After Challenge took over the race from Ironman in 2013, organizers kept the classic Iron-distance format and total entries plunged to 574 after decades of sold out 2,400 entries under the Ironman banner. Two years ago, they opened up the race to Iron-distance and half-Iron distance races as well as relay teams and entries rose to 743. Last year they kept the full and half distance single entries, relay teams became far more popular, and total entries rose to 1,061.
This year, organizers got radical. They changed the long course format to a 3k swim, 120k bike and 30k run – the old Nice International distance – which attracted 597 long course individual entrants and 150 long course relay entrants. In addition, they added a Canadian national duathlon with 110 entrants on the Wednesday before the race and a cross triathlon on Friday with 117 entrants. All together, the Challenge Penticton weeklong tri-festival attracted 937 entries.
Along the way, the premier pro category had another stirring race involving first-rate triathletes with some surprising results.
In the men’s race, an aspiring U.S. talent from a legendary family forced Canadian long course star Jeffrey Symonds to struggle hard. After Drew Scott kept within 47 seconds of Symonds on the 3 kilometer swim, Scott out biked his elder by 5 minutes and 40 seconds. On the run, Symonds unleashed a by-far race-best 1:45:00 split that outpaced Scott by 9 minutes 39 seconds. Symonds finished in 5:32:39 with a 4:47 margin of victory over Scott and 8:07 over 3rd-place finisher Jordan Bryden of Canada.