The latest round in the international triathlon business race to acquire triathlons was announced today by the World Triathlon Corporation as the WTC said it is re-branding Ironman Cairns, and the Challenge Family of 12 international triathlons announced that it will no longer put on Challenge Cairns.
In other words, Challenge Cairns is now Ironman Cairns with 100,000 EUR in prize money and 40 Kona Ironman World Championship qualifying slots for age group athletes.
The WTC purchased Australian based USM Events in February and with that it also acquired several popular triathlons in Australia including races in Noosa, Mooloolaba and Geelong, along with Challenge Cairns. After lengthy discussion between the WTC and the Challenge Family it was decided that it would not be possible for the WTC to own a Challenge Family licensed race.
The two press releases announcing today's new Australian IM are below:
WTC Press Release:
Ironman will add Ironman Cairns to its 2012 lineup. Now part of the global Ironman Series, which features nearly 30 events and reaches more than 70,000 athletes each year, Ironman Cairns will serve as a qualifier for the toughest event in endurance sport, the Ironman World Championship.
“We are excited to add Ironman Cairns to our global list of events,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of Ironman. “This is the perfect opportunity to bring the Ironman experience to a part of Queensland that is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Ironman Cairns will take place on June 3, 2012. A qualifier for the 2012 Ironman World Championship, it will be a P-2000 level race and will offer a 100,000 EUR professional prize purse. Additionally, 40 Ironman World Championship qualifying slots will be available for age group athletes.
Challenge Family Press Release:
(March 13, 2012) - Challenge Family has terminated its agreement with USM Events to deliver Challenge Cairns following breach of contract by USM Events.
The termination follows the purchase of USM Events by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a US-based organisation that operates the Ironman brand. Owned by a private equity investment firm specialising in leveraged buyout transactions, Providence Equity Partners, Ironman/WTC is the main competitor to the Challenge Family brand
Challenge Cairns launched in 2011, attracting some of the biggest names in the sport and providing triathletes with an athlete and family oriented alternative to existing Ironman races within Australia. The event, organized in close cooperation with Events Queensland and Tourism Queensland, also provided a boost to the Cairns economy attracting many athletes from around Australia and overseas with the long term goal of becoming a legacy event for the North Queensland region.
Felix Walchshöfer, Challenge Family CEO, said the new ownership structure of USM Events did not allow Challenge Cairns to continue under their management based on the contractual and ownership status.
“Although we are a global organisation, Challenge Family is still a family-run operation and this filters down to the athlete at all our races, creating the unique atmosphere and experience for the athletes,” he said. “USM Events sold to WTC with no prior notice to us, in full knowledge there were clauses in our contract forbidding this. Not only are we unable to work like this, for WTC to be a licensee for one of our races is untenable.
“We do not want to jeopardise the belief the athletes have in us. We promised them a Challenge race with the Challenge ethos and we can no longer guarantee this will be delivered under USM’s new ownership. As a result, it is no longer possible to run Cairns as a Challenge race for 2012.”
“We continue to be committed to Cairns, Queensland and Australia, we are very proud of what we achieved in year one and the relationships we have built with the local communities, this piece of world is also very special to the Challenge Family,” he continued. “We hope the athletes can understand our decision as we have been left without an alternative and all athletes have the right to full reimbursement from USM Events, should they so wish.
If a triathlon race still takes place in Cairns on 3 June 2012 it will not run under the Challenge Family banner and will not be a Challenge standard event. Challenge Family is currently in negotiations with Cairns stakeholders and potential partners for 2013 and beyond.