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Okanagan Granfondo deemed a success by event organizers

Click to play video: 'Okanagan Granfondo draws thousands to Penticton' Okanagan Granfondo draws thousands to Penticton
Okanagan Granfondo draws thousands to Penticton – Jul 11, 2022

It was a sea of bikes, spandex, and helmets as thousands of cyclists flooded the South Okanagan on Sunday for the 10th annual Okanagan Granfondo.

The event has been on hold since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to the record number of participants this year.

“It’s the most we’ve ever had. There [were] 3,000 registrants, 350 volunteers, and yeah, it was great to see everybody back,” said Okanagan Granfondo owner Jodi Merckx.
“We had people from Australia, United States, all over the world come into town. We [had] 80 per cent of the people [were] from the province of British Columbia, and everybody seemed very excited to be back.”
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Cyclists rode through Penticton, Summerland, Okanagan Falls and Oliver, and organizers say the event went off without a hitch.

Read more: COVID-19: Ironman athletes ‘heartbroken’ by event cancellation but vow to return stronger in 2022

“I would like to say an enormous thank you to our volunteers, sponsors, and the businesses of Penticton because without them we couldn’t have made this event happen in this beautiful city,” said Merckx.

“We started it with wave starts this year, which made everything a lot more safe out on the road and everything went very smooth.”

Large events like Granfondo provide a huge economic impact to the community specifically in the hospitality and tourism sectors, which is much needed after a two-year hiatus from events.

Click to play video: 'Granfondo returns to Penticton' Granfondo returns to Penticton
Granfondo returns to Penticton – Jul 10, 2022

The City of Penticton echoed that Granfondo has proven to benefit the community.

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“It’s a fabulous event for the city of Penticton. It’s a huge economic development for the city of Penticton,” said the Mayor of Penticton John Vassilaki.

“It fills up our restaurants, our motels and hotels and all the other facilities that are required for all these folks to be here. It really brought up the economy for those facilities and revenue coming in that they’ve been missing for the last two and a half years. So, it’s a huge, huge event for those folks.”

The event also raised over $70,000 for the Desmoid Foundation which the Merckx family holds close to their heart.

Read more: Okanagan teen using passion for cycling to raise awareness about rare disease she lives with

“My daughter is battling the disease. It causes tumors in your body, and she’s been battling it since she was 13 and she’s 17 now,” said Merckx.

“We’ve actually raised over $200,000 Over the last two years for the foundation to try to find a cure.”

By nearly all accounts the event was deemed a success by event organizers.

“Our team is beyond thrilled with the end result — a successful day enjoyed by thousands of cyclists and visitors, supported by 350 of Penticton’s finest volunteers,” said Merckx in a press release.

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Registration for next year is already open and spots are already filling up.

Click to play video: 'Dashcam footage of near miss with cyclists on Highway 97' Dashcam footage of near miss with cyclists on Highway 97
Dashcam footage of near miss with cyclists on Highway 97 – Jul 14, 2019

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