Sooke loses international triathlon

The Subaru Sooke International Triathlon, which the last two years has given the Island community national exposure on TSN, will not be held in 2013.

The event has been part of the Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series for each of the six years the series has been in existence.

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"It was an emotional decision," said Paul Regensburg, director of the Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series.

"We loved the Sooke community and invested a lot into it. The volunteers there and sense of community was tremendous and a lot of people will be disappointed. We're as sad about it as anybody."

Regensburg, however, said he had no choice after he received an email from Juan de Fuca regional director Mike Hicks saying Hicks could no longer support the closure of Highway 14 for the race.

"I'm as sad about it as anyone and there are going to be a lot of disappointed athletes and businesses," Hicks said.

"I really wanted this to work and we tried to make it work the past two years [there was a different route not requiring the road closure the previous four years]. But the bottom line is, from Sooke to Port Renfrew, this is a busy road to close down on a Sunday in August and I had a lot of complaints."

Sooke mayor Wendal Milne noted his council has no jurisdiction over the closing of B.C. Highway 14 for the race.

"We're disappointed because the race really showcased the community," said Milne. "We received great exposure through TSN. And many volunteers got to get out on behalf of the community."

Milne said Sooke council last year paid $25,000 in costs to TSN and another $8,000 in policing and that council was prepared to again discuss bearing those costs for 2013.

The revised 2013 West Coast series will entail the Shawnigan Lake race May 26, the venerable Saunders Subaru Elk Lake Half Iron on June 16, a new race in Saskatoon on June 30, the Vancouver race July 14 and Banff race Sept. 7.

Regensburg said one of the races will be broadcast on TSN and negotiations are underway with the national sports network to decide which event.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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