Triathlete’s Holly Bennett was on hand in Penticton, BC for today’s announcement of the Challenge Family’s launch into North America and the new 2013 Challenge Penticton race. Following the live-streamed press conference, she grabbed a few minutes with Challenge CEO Felix Walchshöfer and Challenge Penticton ambassador Peter Reid.
TM: What will be the cap in terms of the number of athletes able to register for the 2013 event?
FW: The city decided on 3,000 single athletes and 500 relay teams. They will be nicely split with wave starts. And the nice thing is we have a one-loop course only, so we will get rid of the drafting problem.
TM: A lot of athletes travel to Penticton just to sign up for the next year’s race. And a number of them have hopes of earning a Kona qualifying spot. What would you say to those athletes in terms of what Challenge Penticton will offer so that they know it will be an experience worth registering for?
FW: I think they have to do one of our events to really know for themselves. This is what is always interesting for us. When we speak to athletes, once they’ve done a Challenge event – and not just Roth or Copenhagen, but all of our events – they say, “Oh my god, it’s really different! You can feel it, you can see it in the details.” So I would tell them to give it a try. If they don’t like it, please tell me personally. I will be very happy to speak to anyone about what they do or don’t like about the race. But I think they should give it a try and I’m pretty sure that 99% of the athletes will want to come back. Because this is what has happened in the past. Our races in Europe are selling out now, because the athletes love it and they come back. They are not coming to our races because of Kona slots, they are coming because of the venue, because of the community, because of the crowds and the quality of the event. They’re coming for the Challenge Family experience.
TM: Is there any chance we’ll see you racing again?
PR: (he laughs) I’ve actually been biking a ton. I’ve been doing a lot of Gran Fondos and stuff like that. But I don’t know. Challenge is big with the relay events. I could definitely see myself doing a relay and making it a stacked effort and really giving her on the bike. But I think that’s as close as I’ll come. I like my life right now and I just don’t have that time for training. Triathlon was a part of my life for a long, long time. And I was looking for a way in, so this is a really good fit for me!
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TM: Since you’re now a professional pilot, would you possibly fly the lead helicopter at next year’s race?
PR: I fly float planes, so no. But one of the things I’ve always had in my mind is making a float plane one of the turnaround buoys. That’s kind of my dream, but I’m not sure if it will work!
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