PTO Explains Its Vision, Will IRONMAN and PTO Raise the Bar for the Sport of Triathlon, 303 Thinks So.

By Bill Plock

Recently social media giant, Triathlon Taren interviewed the CEO of the Professional Triathlon Organisation (PTO), Sam Renouf. This podcast left me quite impressed with the direction of the PTO, Triathlon Taren and made me hopeful for the sport of triathlon. 

Triathlon Taren’s Podcast HERE

https://triathlontarenpodcast.libsyn.com/ptos-2021-business-plan-with-ceo-sam-renouf?fbclid=IwAR0prEShgNp4aeKqII4On69QiyVzuZz-ArG_1Pit5Viop2qSRFKtTwq7YI0

In a public perception sort of way, we seem to want a good vs. bad, a black vs. white, a villain vs a hero story. In the triathlon space, last year PTO took a shot at buying IRONMAN only to be denied. Then PTO decided to introduce a golf influenced triathlon extravaganza, the Collins Cup to showcase the sport of triathlon and attempt to make it a made for TV event. But Covid killed that for 2020 and its slated for August of 2021. 

They then partnered with IRONMAN competitor, the Challenge Family and made CHALLENGE Daytona their pro triathlon championship complete with a 1.2 million dollar prize purse. The PTO also awarded other non-Ironman races with prize purses during 2020 eventually rewarding pros with a few million dollars. Meanwhile IRONMAN had a few races in 2020, but all in all, PTO was responsible for a majority of the cash awarded to pro triathletes and frankly kept them going in 2020.

So now, in the eyes of the public, there seems to be a bit of a triathlon “war” between Ironman and the PTO. According to PTO, their mission is to grow the sport overall and they believe the way to do that is with a healthy pro field and events that appeal to sponsors who want to reach an audience not just racing, but watching on television or in the venue itself—like the home of the Daytona 500.  

Furthermore the PTO believes that salaries and prizes for pros should not be funded primarily by age group entry fees, but rather by sponsor fees. In IRONMAN races, the age group entry fees are the foundation for the revenues and thus the vehicle to fund prizes. The PTO believes that sponsors, TV advertisers and event marketers should pay for the bulk of the prizes and the age groupers shouldn’t be funding the pros. PTO believes IRONMAN races are too expensive for age groupers and that the experience can be made better and less expensive and also that pro’s should be compensated much better. 

Sam Long fired up running with Rudy Von Berg–photo Khem Suthiwan

Ok, so now what? PTO has deep pockets and has spelled out in this interview how they plan to eventually have a model like golf and tennis. There will be four or five triathlons the PTO manages that are the equivalent of the “majors” and will feed a championship. Along the way, local and regional triathlons will act as qualifying events for the majors. 

Not every event will be the same or on a track like Daytona. In this podcast they discuss for example how Challenge Roth could be a possible major and how covering it for TV won’t be as easy as a Daytona, but necessary. They discuss how they want a mix of race types so different athletes with different strengths can emerge champions. Again, think tennis or golf. There are clay court specialists, long course type of golfers, and so forth. Yes, they all need to be able to be good in all conditions, but not all triathletes compete well in say a Kona type environment, or even at a full distance Ironman. A full distance IRONMAN is pretty much about attrition and stamina.  There is strategy, and speed and making the most of one’s skills of course, but very few athletes have a chance to win. It’s not a compelling race. It’s a compelling event because what these pros (and age groupers) do is absolutely incredible and inspirational. 

303’s Khem Suthiwan and Bill Plock in Daytona

But, it’s not made for TV and a tough sell to non-endemic sponsors. The PTO, in Daytona had to prove they could pull off a made for TV event that was competitive and combined the need for skill and speed coupled with stamina and endurance—and they did it.

In Daytona, half a million people watched the race with an average watch time of 29 minutes according to Sam Renouf. That’s unheard of. The PTO definitely succeeded in orchestrating a watchable event. This isn’t to say that the steaming of Kona doesn’t have a large audience, but, according to this podcast the time watched is merely seconds versus 29 minutes. And, that makes sense. There is very little drama in Kona. In Daytona the lead changed practically every few minutes. People probably check in on Kona to see who is still in the lead and come back later. That’s what I do when I’m there.  Once in a while there is some drama in Kona, but with the lap format in Daytona, each lap showcased someone moving up or down the leaderboard. 

The bottom line, to me, is IRONMAN and the PTO can co-exist, quite nicely in fact. 

IRONMAN has one huge advantage over Challenge or any other triathlon—they have a brand. They own triathlon. 

To the average person on the street, if you say “triathlon,” they think “Ironman”. They will say, “oh that race in Hawaii.” Like Kleenex is to tissue paper. Do you see any tattoos of Challenge or USAT or any other form of triathlon on people? Nope. That says it all. 

So as long as IRONMAN continues to put on quality events, and they do, and people aspire be “Ironmans” they will succeed. And as long as Kona or wherever the 70.3 championships are held, are tough to qualify for and have a worldwide appeal, they will be remain relevant. 

To the pro’s, at the end of the day, they will, and need to go where the money is. But there may always be a desire to race Kona even if it’s not the top money gathering race. There may always be a desire to figuratively race against the legends of the sport on the same historic course; the Mark Allens, Dave Scotts, Paula Newby-Frasers, Chrissie Wellingtons, Miranda Carfraes etc.  And the same goes for age groupers. As someone who nearly qualified, I know its a pretty exclusive club to race there, and that appeal is strong. 

If I had my druthers, I would love to see IRONMAN and the PTO kiss and make up and throw IRONMAN races into the mix as qualifiers for the pros. Maybe Kona is the long course championship, maybe the Collins Cup is the place for national pride to take over (its America, vs Europe vs Internationals—like golfs Ryder cup) and maybe Daytona is a mix where triathletes of all disciplines get to race against each other and the fastest one wins. And maybe great regional races like a Lake to Lake, or Harvest Moon here in Colorado become qualifiers for a PTO Major maybe held in a place like Des Moines—think the old Hy Vee race. 

Who knows, but a fun, healthy made for TV sport will only help provide more opportunities for both age groupers and pros to excel, make a living and have fun.

The sport needs heroes and characters. Locally we have someone like Sam Long who isn’t afraid to mix it up and call people out and behind his “yo yo yo’s” I believe Sam is having a ton of fun and trying to make the sport more dynamic and earn a living doing so. He, I believe wants nothing more than great competition like all triathletes I have ever met.

The sport needs a healthy variety of races and distances and a sense of pride for competing in everything from a local sprint to Kona. Every triathlon and triathlete should be judged on their willingness to try every single day at every single event. 

Go PTO, raise the bar. Go IRONMAN, keep the dream alive and lets hope someday you both dance on the same dance floor together. 

Dear Dave

Dear Dave,

When we first met, little did I know that I was talking to a legend. It was December of 2017 and we were at the IRONMAN World Championship NBC Broadcast Preview Party in New York City. I remember your big smile and infectious energy as you made your way around the room talking to various guests. When you told me who you were and your connection to IRONMAN, I was completely floored. Here I am, talking to the guy who finished 3rd at the 1st ever IRONMAN in 1978.

December 2017 – New York City

From that moment on, our paths crossed at various events and activities due to our invovlement with the IRONMAN Foundation. We dug up weeds to help restore sacred grounds on the Big Island, volunteered our time with Paradox Sports in Boulder with their adaptive climbing program, and so many other fun times. I’ll admit, up to that point I only knew you from your accomplishment as being the 3rd badass that ever finished an IRONMAN.

It was time to head back to Kona in October of 2018, and you reached out to me to see if I was also headed back to the Big Island. Somehow we connected the dots and realized we were both on the same flights from Denver to Honolulu, and then Kona. The travel angels were doing their magic, I got upgraded to a First Class seat, and there you were sitting in First Class as well. With a little bit of shuffling, our flight attendant made sure we got to seat next to each other.

Thank you United! It was a great ride!!!

It was during that flight that I had the privilege to really get to know you. That 9 hour flight flew right by in a blink of an eye. We talked about life, love, triathlon, and everything under the sun. You told me about your service in the Marines, leading to your post on the Island of Oahu where this crazy idea of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles was cooked up.

Dave heading out on the bike leg of the 1st ever IRONMAN – Oahu, Hawaii

I’ll never forget learning about the nuances of your experience racing self-supported. The bike you rode was borrowed, you threw a $20 bill into the pocket of your jean shorts to buy food and drink along the way, one of your “aid stations” was a grocery store that you ran into quickly for fear that your bike would get stolen because you left it outside, and on the run your friends showed up with handups of beer.

You never hid how you felt about how the sport of triathlon has morphed from this grassroots bandit-like fun culture where finishing was a feat in itself to the now technology ridden profit-driven sport of the privileged few. Despite all these changes, your spirit and love of the sport never unwavered. You were extremely humble about all your accomplishments and had the upmost respect for the sport, how it made you a better person, and gave back to you personally in so many ways. Seeing the excitement in your eyes when the cannon went off on the Kailua Bay pier for the swim start even after 40 years since it all began gave me faith that maybe someday I would love racing long distance again.

I also remember you telling me about your battle with cancer and all the infusion treatments you had received. In fact, you missed going to Kona in 2017 because you were too ill and got stuck in Los Angeles to complete a round of infusions. No one would ever suspect that you were “sick” from interacting with you. Your spirit and energy definitely didn’t reflect that, which is something I really admired about you. You always rose to the occasion but took the time to yourself to recharge when needed. One thing that you did mention that I’ll never forget that even though the cancer suppressed your immune system, you were always willing to take that chance to be around people because you loved the energy of race week and race day on the Big Island. Nothing would make you miss being part of the fun!

You fought an amazing fight my friend. That battle is now over and you’ve cross the finish line of life. The way you lived is how we should all aspire to live. To the fullest. Dave Orlowski-style. Now you’ll live on forever in each and every one of us who’ve been blessed and lucky enough to have been part of your journey.

E hoʻomaha me ka maluhia my friend.

Kou kaikuahine me ke aloha,
Khem

IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Postponed

The triathlon world now has their answer. The World Championship race and 70.3 World Championship are both postponed.

There will be two editions of the IRONMAN World Championship with the postponed race taking place February 6, 2020 and the second October 10, 2020. The date of the 70.3 race has yet to be determined.

Here is the official press release from IRONMAN

IRONMAN ANNOUNCES 2020 IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND IRONMAN 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HAVE BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC

  • Decision made after careful consideration with local partners and based upon inability to host qualifying events as well as current international border and travel restrictions in Hawai`i and New Zealand
  • 2020 IRONMAN World Championship rescheduled for February 6, 2021
  • New 2021 date options for 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to be determined with local and national officials

TAMPA, Fla. (May 14, 2020) – IRONMAN today announced in conjunction with host city partners and authorities in Hawai`i, United States and Taupō, New Zealand, that due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN® World Championship and IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship cannot take place on their originally scheduled dates. The IRONMAN World Championship will now take place on February 6, 2021 returning to its historic original race month and marking 40 years since it first took place in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawai`i. While a new date for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has not yet been determined, teams are working diligently with local and national officials and authorities to secure a date for early 2021.
 
IRONMAN has been closely monitoring the situation and guidance by the Hawaiian and New Zealand governments regarding mass gatherings, border and travel restrictions and other COVID-19 related issues to assess the feasibility of hosting the 2020 IRONMAN World Championship and 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Additionally, as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact events around the world, both world championship events have seen a majority of their respective qualifying events postponed or unable to take place in 2020, impeding the ability to produce and host truly competitive world championship events. Based on these factors and circumstances beyond our control, coupled with a mission to give athletes and communities as much preparation time as possible, it is clear the world championship events cannot proceed as planned in October and November, respectively.
 
Similar to 1982, there will be two editions of the IRONMAN World Championship in a single year (February and October) to accommodate athletes who qualify during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
 
As a result of the continued impact of COVID-19, the qualifying window for the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN World Championship has been extended to provide further qualification opportunities. The most up-to-date information on overall qualification details for the IRONMAN World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/im-world-championship.
 
The IRONMAN World Championship is the pinnacle of endurance sports with athletes from all over the world coming to Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i after qualifying at events on six continents. Each year more than 94,000 athletes vie for coveted slots to the IRONMAN World Championship with approximately 2,500 athletes making it to the starting line on race day. In 2019, the IRONMAN World Championship generated a total economic impact of $72 million USD per a study conducted by Markrich Research. In addition to tourism, IRONMAN and the IRONMAN Foundation have provided a total of $1.9 million USD in grant funding to the Kailua-Kona region since the inception of the IRONMAN World Championship.

“The IRONMAN World Championship has been a cornerstone in showcasing our island’s attributes to the world for decades. We fully support their decision to postpone these races, and we feel that it is the right thing to do to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawai`i Visitors Bureau. “It also allows supporting industries to prepare the resources necessary to maintain the high standard the event has created over the years. We look forward to welcoming them back when the time is right and will do our best to assist with the transition.”
 
“The County of Hawai`i supports IRONMAN’s difficult decision to postpone the October 2020 IRONMAN World Championship event to early 2021. We look forward to welcoming the athletes, their families and supporters in early February of 2021,” said Harry Kim, Honorable Mayor for Kona. 
 
The IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has grown in stature and popularity since its inception in 2006 and is now the culmination of over 100 events. Every year more than 200,000 athletes compete annually for a place among the world’s best with over 5,000 athletes ultimately making it to the two-day event. Based on past economic impact studies, the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship is expected to create a total impact reaching $20 million NZD for the host city and region.
 
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said the postponement was expected given the effect COVID-19 was having on New Zealand and indeed the world. “This was no doubt a difficult decision, but the most important thing is that we as a community are ready to welcome these athletes when the time is right. We are proud to be home to the iconic IRONMAN New Zealand triathlon and are ready to showcase exactly why that is to the rest of the world. Bring on 2021.”
 
For more information and event details for the IRONMAN World Championship, please visit www.ironman.com/im-world-championship. Further updates on the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship.
 
For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. Media related inquiries may be directed to press@ironman.com.

Matt Miller of BASE PERFORMANCE and Long History with IRONMAN–and Cologne

In a new installment of the 303Endurance Podcast we chat with Matt Miller about his long history with triathlons and in particular IRONMAN. And did you know he was a model for IRONMAN cologne?? Fun fact. He has guided visual impaired athletes in numerous races and talks about that and how it all started. He talks about starting BASE and partnering with IRONMAN. There are few people that have been to more races than Matt. We also chatted about the impact of COVID on his business and the sport. Fun stories abound!

Have a listen here: 303Endurance Podcast with Matt

IRONMAN Sold to Advance

New York, NY / Tampa, FL (March 26, 2020) – Advance announced today that it has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement with Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (NASDAQ: WSG) to acquire The IRONMAN Group in an all-cash transaction.  
 
The IRONMAN Group and its portfolio of assets, which includes its flagship IRONMAN® and IRONMAN®70.3® triathlons, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, and the Epic Series® of mountain biking races, among other events, makes up the largest mass participation sports platform in the world. From a single race on O’ahu, Hawai`i in 1978, The IRONMAN Group has owned, organized, promoted, and licensed endurance events for over 40 years, which now consists of more than 235 events in over 50 countries, across triathlon, running, trail running, cycling and mountain biking. Each year over one million international athletes participate in an IRONMAN Group race.
 
Advance is committed to the future of The IRONMAN Group and believes in the long-term strength of its well-recognized brands and the dedication of its athletes, communities, employees and fans. Advance is a private, family-owned business that invests in a broad range of media and technology companies.
 
Orkila Capital (“Orkila”) will co-invest in The IRONMAN Group and Jesse Du Bey, Managing Partner of Orkila, will rejoin its Board of Directors alongside Advance and Andrew Messick, President and CEO of The IRONMAN Group. Orkila is a growth equity firm focused on investments in the media, entertainment and consumer sectors. Du Bey, previously a Managing Director at Providence Equity Partners, led that firm’s 2008 investment in The IRONMAN Group.
 
“Today is an important milestone for The IRONMAN Group. We are pleased with this partnership, which is a testament to Advance’s belief in the company,” said Andrew Messick, CEO of The IRONMAN Group. “We remain confident in our future; our focus and objectives are unchanged; and we are ready to face the opportunities and challenges ahead. Together with Advance and Orkila, we will navigate through the turbulent and uncertain period in front of us and continue to deliver the exceptional experiences for which we’re known. I’m also thrilled to welcome Jesse Du Bey back to the Board of Directors of The IRONMAN Group.” Messick continued, “We thank Wanda Sports Group for its support over the past four years and are proud of what we have accomplished together. We look forward to continuing our work in China with Wanda Sports Group in the coming years.”
 
“We are pleased to welcome The IRONMAN Group to the Advance family of companies,” said Janine Shelffo, Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Advance. “The core IRONMAN Group values of endurance and perseverance resonate strongly at Advance, a one hundred year-old business that has differentiated itself through long-term focus and commitment.  We are delighted to partner with Andrew and his executive team as they plan to resume exceptional race experiences for their passionate athletes, and to support the long-term growth of the business. We’re also pleased to join forces with Orkila and are grateful for the invaluable experience with The IRONMAN Group that they bring to our partnership.”
 
“I look forward to this new chapter with The IRONMAN Group. Since I last worked with Andrew and his team, the company has experienced significant growth in its global triathlon event footprint and has successfully expanded into new areas such as running, trail running and mountain biking,” said Jesse Du Bey, Managing Partner of Orkila. “I am thrilled that Orkila is partnering with Advance, Andrew and The IRONMAN Group to help build this great family of brands into the future.”

About Advance
Advance is a private, family-owned business that owns, operates and invests in companies spanning media, entertainment, technology, communications, education and other promising growth sectors. Our mission is to build the value of our companies over the long-term by fostering growth and innovation. Advance’s portfolio includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, 1010data and Pop. Together these operating companies employ more than 15,000 people in 19 countries. Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Discovery and Reddit. For more information visit www.advance.com.

About Orkila
Orkila Capital LLC (“Orkila”) was formed in 2013, by Jesse Du Bey and Taylor Storms, to pursue proprietary and compelling growth equity investment opportunities in the consumer, media and entertainment sectors. Orkila invests in leading companies at the forefront of evolving market opportunities, including Mikkeller, Recognition Media (The Webby Awards), Antares Audio Technologies (Auto-Tune), Omnipollo and Bellator MMA. Additionally, the Principals of Orkila co-founded Crash Line Productions (Boston Calling Music Festival, Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival and others) as well as sourced and helped execute the 2008 purchase of World Triathlon Corporation (IRONMAN) on behalf of their prior firm. With over 30 years of experience, the Principals of Orkila seek to leverage their deep industry knowledge and relationships to focus on growth platforms with differentiated brands, IP or content. Orkila manages approximately $500 million of capital across three private equity funds and several Special Purpose Vehicles. For more information visit www.orkilacapital.com.

 

PTO and IRONMAN Talks Heating Up, Maybe Not in a Friendly Way?

By Bill Plock

Below is a news release we just received from the Professional Triathletes Organization regarding their attempt to engage with IRONMAN for eventual purchase and/or collaboration. It’s no secret the Wanda Sports Group is hoping to sell its triathlon business (IRONMAN). If you are keeping up with this saga, here is the latest.

From afar, does this in some ways parallel what is happening in the National Football League, but on a much, much smaller scale? The NFL is trying to get the players union to accept a new collective bargaining agreement that is actually valid until 2021. But from all accounts, NFL owners want to leverage a long term players agreement as they approach upcoming, multi-billion dollar television contracts due for negotiation this year. If there is a “shaky”, one year agreement players contract still in place, it is thought the NFL will not be able to maximize television contracts due to a possible strike and loss of games to be televised. Makes sense.

Is this a similar situation? It seems the PTO is basically telling IRONMAN that with a supportive professional triathlete organization, they will have a better product to sell and a stronger brand. So why are there no conversations happening–at least publicly? It will be interesting to see how this moves forward.

LONDON, ENGLAND–: The Professional Triathletes Organisation today released the following letter sent to the Board of Directors of Wanda Sports Group Company Limited on 3rd March 2020 advising the Board that in its view the value of the Ironman® Business in any possible sale would be adversely affected by its failure to engage in constructive discussions with the PTO.

Board of Directors, Wanda Sports Group Company Limited, Wanda Plaza, Tower B, 9th Floor, 93 Jianguo Road Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, Attn: Mr. Yimin Gao–CEO

Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer, World Triathlon Corporation, 3407 W. Martin Luther King Blvd, Suite 100, Tampa, Florida 33607

Dear Members of the Board:

We are writing on behalf of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (the “PTO”) and note with interest your public announcement that the Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (“WSG”) is in preliminary discussions concerning the possible sale of its worldwide triathlon and mass participation business (the “WTC Business”). We further note that the WSG Board has yet to respond to our letter dated 3rd of February 2020, in which we advised the Board that the PTO is prepared to enter into discussions regarding the acquisition of the WTC Business and to consider an all-cash transaction or one in which the existing shareholders of WSG are able to participate in the growth of the WTC Business that the PTO and its professionals are uniquely able to deliver. In our letter we also advised the WSG Board that we are prepared to work with other groups who may be interested in acquiring the WTC Business.

We strongly believe that our involvement in the sale process will enable the WSG shareholders to maximise the value of any sale of the WTC Business, and failure to allow the PTO the opportunity to be part of any sale process will adversely affect the WSG shareholders. We believe that this proposal represents a unique opportunity to realise significant value for WSG shareholders and the employees of WTC, and that the PTO can uniquely provide a healthy and growing environment for the WTC Business. The PTO and North Point Advisors, our financial advisors, are prepared to begin discussions forthwith with your senior management and your financial advisors and to sign a customary confidentiality agreement in order to commence certain due diligence.

We hope that you share our enthusiasm and that the WSG Board, in the exercise of its fiduciary duties, delivers a prompt and favourable reply to us. As the WSG Board has failed to respond to our previous good faith approach, we will publicly release a copy of this letter. We would urge you to convey to any potential bidders with whom you may be in discussions our view that the cooperation of the PTO in the operations of the WTC Business is vital to its valuation and its ongoing and future success and, further, in our view, the continued failure of the WSG Board or any potential bidder with whom you may be in discussions to engage with the PTO in a constructive and cooperative manner may have an adverse effect on the WTC Business and the WSG shareholders. We would accordingly request that if there are any restrictions in any Non-Disclosure Agreements prohibiting potential bidders from engaging in discussions with the PTO, that they be waived so that WSG shareholders are able to maximise the sale price of the WTC Business.

Respectfully yours,

Charles Adamo –– Chairman

Sam Renouf –– Chief Executive Officer

Rachel Joyce –– Athlete Director

Dylan McNeice –– Athlete Director

PTO Taking Another Run at Purchasing IRONMAN

LONDON, ENGLAND–BOULDER, USA; 4th February 2020: The Professional Triathletes Organisation today released the following letter sent to the Board of Directors of Wanda Sports Group Company Limited on 3rd February 2020 advising the Board that the PTO has closed on its financial partnership with Crankstart Investments and renewing the PTO’s proposal to enter into discussions to acquire the IRONMAN® business.

Dear Members of the Board:

We are writing on behalf of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (the “PTO”) to advise you that we have closed on our partnership financing with Crankstart Investments. We again want to put forth our proposal to enter into discussions for the acquisition by the PTO of all of the assets of the Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (“WSG”) related to its worldwide triathlon and mass participation business (the “WTC Business”).

The PTO is prepared to consider an all-cash transaction or one in which the existing shareholders of WSG are able to participate in the growth of the WTC Business that the PTO is uniquely positioned to deliver. We strongly believe that it is only with the assistance of the PTO and its professional athletes that the WTC Business has the ability to stabilise and grow, and that without our cooperation the WTC Business would deteriorate. We are happy to work with any other financially stable group who may be interested in acquiring the WTC Business, reducing its debt load and unleashing the value only the PTO and its professional athletes can deliver.

The PTO and North Point Advisors, our financial advisors, are prepared to begin discussions forthwith with your senior management and your financial advisors and to sign a customary confidentiality agreement in order to commence certain confirmatory due diligence. In light of the significance of this proposal to your shareholders and the triathlon community, as well as the potential for selective disclosures, we will publicly release the text of this letter tomorrow morning.

We believe this proposal represents a unique opportunity to realise significant value for WSG shareholders and employees, and that the PTO can uniquely provide a healthy and growing environment for the WTC Business.

We hope that you and your Board share our enthusiasm and, consistent with applicable fiduciary duties, we look forward to a prompt and favourable reply.

Respectfully yours,

Charles D. Adamo––Chairman

Sam Renouf––Chief Executive Officer

Rachel Joyce––Co-President

Tim O’Donnell––Co-President

Opinion: What is happening to the IRONMAN World Championship?

By Khem Suthiwan

IRONMAN announced in early June the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship would feature a new swim start protocol utilizing waves that separates the field into 11 groups. Their reason: to reduce athlete density on the bike course.

As a four-time IRONMAN finisher, to include Kona, I’m not sure what I think about this. Three of my IM finishes were mass starts. The year I raced Kona it was the first time the men and women age groupers had separate mass starts. When I trained for my first one (IRONMAN Canada-Penticton), the allure of the mass start and its spectacle was one of the things that drew me to the race. Now one by one, primarily in North America, races have implemented rolling swim starts and the mass start is about close to extinct.

Khem at the
2015 IRONMAN World Championship Swim Start

While I understand the need to improve the safety for competitors, especially at races that typically draw novice athletes and take place in urban areas (nevermind when you sign up for an IRONMAN you should know what you’re getting yourself into), but at the IRONMAN World Championship? By the time most athletes get to the start line in Kona, they will have raced and trained thousands of hours and miles. Is there really a need? And the reason of reducing athlete density on the bike course, the Queen K Highway is completely closed off to vehicular traffic AND it’s up to the athletes to follow the rules of the bike course (no drafting, blocking, etc.).

So, my question to the universe and all the triathletes that care, is Kona slowly losing its luster? The midnight finish isn’t really midnight in most cases. What’s next? Splitting the women’s and men’s race to two separate days? Rolling swim starts? Who knows, but whatever new protocol that ends up getting implemented next, in my opinion will most likely chip away pieces of the original Kona IRONMAN spirit and excitement.

PTO Announces Intent to Buy IRONMAN

From the staff of 220Triathlon.com

The Professional Triathlon Organisation (PTO) have announced that they have approached WANDA with the intent to acquire Ironman and its assets. We spoke to Sam Renouf, CEO of the PTO, to find out more about the decision and what it means for triathlon

Why has the PTO made the decision to try and buy Ironman?

Ever since Providence Capital Partners first saddled WTC with $200 million debt and prepared for their exit sale, the business has been starved of investment. When WSG acquired WTC it burdened the operation with additional debt, thus restricting any ability of the dedicated management to invest and promote the business.

Our goal in acquiring the Ironman assets is to free it from this excessive debt burden and we are in discussions with partners where a healthy portion of equity is injected into the business to reduce interest payments and increase investment in things like promotion, production, race standards and prize money, and maybe even a health insurance programme for professionals.  

You must admit something is wrong when athletes like Matt Russell and Tim Don are reduced to GoFundMe pages and charitable sponsor donations to pay medical bills after bike accidents at a World Championship Event. It is actually heartbreaking to see, and to be honest, we are a bit surprised the community is not more upset by this.  

How confident are you this will happen – has there been any signs from Wanda that they’re open to this?

While we have not had any overt signs from Wanda before our letter, our bankers, North Point Advisors, have analysed the WSG Financial Statements and the performance of the IPO, and have advised that this an opportune time to start discussions.Since we have now sent our letter and released it publicly, we will not be permitted to comment on any ongoing discussions. 

Read the rest HERE

Ironman 70.3 Delivers Winners–and a Marriage!

By Bill Plock

After 70.3 miles of racing, less than 75 yards separated 1st from 2nd place in the men’s pro race.

At the awards ceremony, men’s winner Chris Leiferman thanked fellow competitor Tyler Butterfield for pushing him–Leiferman won by eight seconds! Leiferman knew Butterfield was close behind when the crowds errupted behind him as Butterfield was closing the gap. But Leiferman prevailed to take first place with a time of 3:44:32. The rest of the field included Kennett Peterson, 3rd, Andy Potts, 4th, Josh Armberger (Aus) 5th and Ben Hoffman 6th. Only Jos Armberger doesn’t reside in Colorado, quite the day for the Coloradans!

The women’s race was won by Skye Moench with a time of 4:09. She came off a recent victory in the full in Frankfurt Germany and Boulder was her first 70.3 win. In second place was Boulder’s Lesley Smith, followed by Meredith Kessler(USA) , Luiza Cravo (Brazil), Romina Palacio (Argentina) and Rachel Olson (USA).

Of the 2,200 amateurs who started the race, Matt McWilliams was the fastest male with a 3:58 time and Alina Henschke Busch for women at 4:28. As temperatures soared into high 90’s the last athletes came in around 4:30

In a fun side story, the Miami Tri Club brought 50 athletes to race, but more importantly to be witnesses to the club manager, Andy Clark marrying Stephanie Reinhold at the finish line after all the athletes were in–and having raced themselves. Andy’s sister in-law, Nicole Clark works for IRONMAN in Louisville. She and her husband, Nick (Andy’s twin brother) raced as well. It’s all one big happy family in the Triathlon World!! Congrats to the Clark family!

All the results of yesterdays race can be found HERE