A brand-new event is set to launch in Pemberton this summer.
On Sept. 1, the Pemberton Aerothlon is set to take flight in Spud Valley. Organizer Peter Chrzanowski described the event as a different take on a triathlon, with a paragliding element replacing the swim and the cycling and running elements taking place on local trails instead of on the roads.
Chrzanowski first heard of the event in Mexico, where it has run since 2013, and connected with event director Pablo Lopez to show him what Pemberton has to offer as a potential location.
One of Chrzanowski's biggest challenges was to find a transition from the paragliding portion to the biking portion. His initial preferences required rezoning permits as they are currently agricultural lands. Chrzanowski noted he had secured landowner permission before proceeding.
Chrzanowski bemoaned the "red tape" associated with proceeding, but Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) communications and engagement manager Jeannette Nadon said in an email that the SLRD's responses to Chrzanowski's inquiries were done to the letter of the law.
"Mr. Chrzanowski contacted the SLRD a few weeks ago to inquire into the permitting requirements to use a private property within SLRD Area C as a staging area for part of his proposed event. As the property is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, Mr. Chrzanowski was advised that the property owner would require a non-farm use application (which would need to be recommended by the SLRD Board and approved by the Agricultural Land Commission). A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) would also be required, as the property zoning does not currently permit this type of use. Mr. Chrzanowski was also advised that depending on the nature of the event and the number of people expected, a Special Event Permit may also be required," Nadon wrote in an email.
"Following his inquiries at the staff level regarding the necessary permits, Mr. Chrzanowski made a presentation to the Electoral Area Directors (EAD) Committee on May 8, 2018. I did not attend the presentation, but my understanding was that Mr. Chrzanowski shared information about his proposed event and requested suggestions in finding a suitable field near the Mackenzie Basin trails. Following his presentation, the EAD reconfirmed the process for securing the necessary permits and permissions."
However, Chrzanowski said he subsequently found a fit in the Miller Farm, which has previously been used as a landing site for events such as last year's Paragliding Nationals. It's not the plan he'd hoped for, which was to land near the trails to minimize transition time, but the change in plans should work out OK.
"We'll stop the clock when they land and we'll shuttle them to the mountain-bike start," Chrzanowski said.
Aerothlon has found its footing in Central and South America, and while Chrzanowski expects to attract some veterans from that part of the world, he expects this year's event participants will likely hail from closer by.
"I think the majority will be from here," he said. "This event is tailored to both hardcore athletes, the Red Bull athletes who do all three sports, but everybody can just do one leg and form a team instead of doing all three."
Chrzanowski said if the weather is cooperative, the paragliding element will traverse 20 kilometres while the running and biking portions will run roughly eight to 10 km each. While he has an idea of what he'd like the route to be, Chrzanowski is seeking volunteers to run them and provide feedback.
With limited time for planning this year's event, he said 2018 will be a "demonstration" with a full push dedicated to holding it again in 2019.