City should go after Ironman event

I am writing to express my support of a bid to bring Ironman to Vernon.

I am writing to express my support of a bid to bring Ironman to Vernon. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for our community and I feel that we would be kicking ourselves in the future if we didn’t pursue this vigorously today.  There are many people that do not want to be perceived as “the bad guy” by going after an Ironman event.

They feel as if we would be undermining the efforts of the City of Penticton to move in another direction. The simple fact is that every community has the right to pursue prosperous opportunities. For years, Penticton has reaped millions of dollars of economic stimulus from hosting this event.  After a long relationship with Ironman, it ended in divorce; however, just like any relationship that dissolves, new partnerships are created.

Once you have terminated your relationship you forfeit the right to have a say in the future choices of your Ex.  Hence, we should not feel guilty about pursuing our best interests as a community. We are not poaching the event.

Many people are pondering the question of “why”? Why did Pentiction choose to end its relationship? That question will undoubtedly be vetted by our city staff and the concept of hosting the event thoroughly parsed before a formal bid would take place.  The simple reality is that Ironman events are extremely stable and the majority of their sites are renewing contracts. The community and economic benefit that has been recognized by host sites has been enormous.  There is no way that Penticton hosts the event for as long as it has unless it was having a positive impact. Further evidence to this is the fact that they have not abandoned their race but simply looked for greener pastures.

In business, brand recognition is critical.  There is simply no more iconic brand out there in the sport of triathlon than Ironman.  This is not being negative on the Challenge Family. The reviews of their events have been positive and I am a supporter.

What I am referring to is the loyalty factor to the Ironman brand. Triathletes identify emotionally with Ironman races.  This is particularly evident amongst first-time Ironman competitors. They crave the moniker that is bestowed upon every participant that completes the race: “You are an Ironman!”

Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho just signed for another five years and the inaugural Lake Tahoe event sold out in under a day. The host cities of Ironman events typically rake in between $8-16 million per year. Our local economy has taken its lumps in the past few years.  Ironman would bring much needed economic stimulus and and international recognition of our community. Even if we are not chosen to host Ironman Canada, a strong bid may put us on the map to host other Ironman competitions such as their highly popular 70.3 race.

Vernon is an incredible city and we have successfully hosted major events before.  The challenge before us is daunting, but I firmly believe in the commitment and resolve of our community members. A strong bid for this event is important.

I have started a support page for this event on Facebook. Please visit www.facebook.com/BringIronmanToVernon and “Like” us to show support for this opportunity.

Jade Kersey

Vernon