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Challenge Cairns becomes Ironman Cairns

Challenge Family terminates contract with USM Events.

Following the recent acquisition of USM Events by World Triathlon Corporation, many were wondering what was going to happen to Challenge Cairns, an event that USM events operated.

We can all wonder no more, because Challenge Cairns has now become Ironman Cairns.

The race will still take place on June 3rd, and it will a qualifier for the 2012 Ironman World Championship, with 40 qualifying slots for age group athletes. Professionals will vie for 100 000 EUR in prize money. Further information will be made available at USM Events.

The following statement was released by the Challenge Family:

The termination follows the purchase of USM Events by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a US-based organization that operates the Ironman brand. Owned by a private equity investment firm specializing 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 organization, 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 jeopardize 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 June 3, 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.