Poor Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) forced Kelowna Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada officials to cancel Sunday’s scheduled age group and CAMTRI races.
With the province of British Columbia in a state of emergency as a result of more than 560 active forest fires, AQHI levels skyrocketed to a 10+ rating (very high risk) on Friday evening and have remained high throughout the weekend.
Consulting regularly with local health care officials, the emergency risk management team at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon has been on high alert. Race officials originally cancelled all of Saturday races including the 2018 National Championships. A modified ITU CAMTRI Continental Cup race was put back on Sunday’s schedule for elite athletes, but health risks remained too high.
“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement,” said Susie Ernsting, Race Director for Apple Triathlon. “This weekend of racing was a culmination of months of hard work from the dedicated volunteers, Board of Directors, and hard-working athletes. We were so excited to have the Apple return to Kelowna, and it is beyond devastating that we are unable to do any races. We hope to regroup for 2019 and appreciate the triathlon community’s understanding these circumstances are outside of our control.”
“We are obviously disappointed to have to cancel races today, but the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers and spectators are our number one priority,” says Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society Chair Matt Canzer. “When the air quality health index is like this it’s just not safe to engage in strenuous outdoor activity. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2019 for an excellent race and we hope we can count on the community to join us.”
Triathlon Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee will adjust the Pan American Games selection criteria for Canadian athletes that were connected with the National Championships/CAMTRI race. Triathlon Canada will update all impacted participants, along with its provincial partners, as soon as the new criteria is completed.
“This is obviously an unfortunate series of events that Mother Nature has dealt us. The National Championships is the lone event of the year that brings all of us in the Triathlon Canada Nation together, but the protection, safety and health of our athletes, coaches and volunteers is our number one priority – always,” said Kim Van Bruggen, Chief Executive Officer, Triathlon Canada. “We can’t thank Susie Ernsting and her team at the Apple enough for their passion, commitment and tireless work in trying to pull this off. The Apple is one of the most prestigious events on the calendar and we hope to see our nation’s best racing here again in the very near future.”
The final word comes from Susie Ernsting and Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society. “On behalf of everyone at Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada, please accept our sincerest apologies to all of the athletes who were unable to race. Our thoughts are with those who have been negatively impacted by the fires, and our continual gratitude goes out to all those fighting to keep them in control and ensure our safety.”
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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