The South Okanagan-Similkameen region will again play host to one of North America's most challenging endurance events – the Ultra520K Canada – on the B.C. Day long weekend.
The unique, individual, three-day event features 520 km of swimming, biking and running, marking the 19th running of the challenging race since its inception in Penticton in 1993.
“This year has been an unusual challenge to get this event together”, said Steve Brown, race director. “We had 40 athletes at Christmas time and then over the months we have had athletes drop out or rollover into future years due to injuries and life issues such as illnesses, babies, job changes.
“The good news is I already have 36 registered for 2020 and another 21 for 2021. These numbers don’t include a group of 10 coming from Australia. We have reopened the registration for 2020 to bring it back up to 45 and the same with 2021.”
The 2019 race by the numbers: 24 athletes (8 women, 16 men) hailing from 9 different countries including Canada (10), United States (7), and one each from Spain, England, Guatemala, Wales, Pakistan, New Zealand and Brazil. There are five “veterans” of the Ultra520K wars, four of which are returning to Canada for at least a second time.
In order to be invited to this demanding endurance race, competitors must complete at least an iron distance race (226.3 km) in under 14.5 hours during the previous 18 months.
Only two Okanagan athletes are scheduled to start the 2019 event. Locally, Stephanie Rivest of Penticton will be participating in her first Ultra520K Canada.
Rory Bass, one of the veterans who makes his home in Kelowna, is scheduled to start this year after recovering from a serious bike accident just weeks prior to last year’s event which forced him to drop out in 2018.
The race schedule is as follows:
Day 1 (Saturday): Begins with a 10km swim in Skaha Lake from Penticton to Sovereign Road near Okanagan Falls. After which, athletes complete a 149.8 km bike ride through the South Okanagan, over the Richter Pass, and ending back in Kenyon Park in OK Falls.
Day 2 (Sunday) continues with competitors cycling a 274.2 km bike route from Penticton to Osoyoos. They return to OK Falls, then climb “The Wall” to Willowbrook and Twin Lakes on their way to Princeton where they complete an out and back section along the Old Hedley Road to finish at the Princeton Arena.
Day 3 (Monday): completes the event with an 84.4 km run from Princeton to Summerland along the Old Princeton Summerland Road. The athletes finish at Memorial Park in Summerland.
Spectators are invited to witness the end of all stages as follows: Day 1/Stage 1 10 km Swim, Sovereign Road Boat Launch just off eastside road starting at approximately 8:30 AM; Day1/Stage 1 149 km Bike, Kenyon Park, Okanagan Falls, first finisher will be approximately 2:30 p.m.; Day2/Stage 2 275 km Bike, Princeton Arena, approximately 3:30 p.m.; Day3/Stage 3 84.4 km Run, Memorial Park, Summerland approximately 2:30 p.m.
Alternatively, the event can be followed on Face Book Live (@ultra520kcanada) with streaming from all the finish areas.
For further information on Ultra520K Canada, including athlete bios, previous winners and course records, visit www.ultra520kcanada.com or contact race director, Steve Brown at (250) 809-1798.