The Ironman Group has been a leader in mass participation events for years. The company’s portfolio now extends well beyond the Ironman triathlon series itself and includes the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, the multi-day road cycling event series Haute Route and a strategic partnership with UTMB Group, which organizes ultra-trail running events. The company has also been expanding its virtual events during the pandemic and recently acquired the indoor virtual cycling app, FulGaz, to further push into the ever-growing world of connected fitness.
After Ironman’s in-person races dropped off the calendar at the start of the pandemic in 2020, they began coming back in 2021 and expectations are high for the 2022 calendar. In this conversation between Ironman Group CEO Andrew Messick and SportsTravel Editor and Publisher Jason Gewirtz, Messick discusses how the race series brought back its events, the outlook for the coming year and how the organization uses its own proprietary CRM system to help determine future host cities. We also discuss some of the Ironman series’ latest new host cities, including locations in Alaska and Oregon — firsts for the series. And we explore some of the biggest opportunities ahead in the world of mass participation events from one of the leaders in the space.
“We’ve developed a series of proprietary technologies around how we think about where the next event should be. And we’ve built over the years a proprietary CRM system that enables us to be able to understand where we are under-penetrated in terms of athletes. A lot of our race development activity is really geared towards how do we put a race in a place where we think there will be demand for that event and it won’t come at the expense of other races that we have in either the country or the world.”
Among the topics featured in this episode:
- What impact has the pandemic had on Ironman events? (3:43)
- What were discussions like as the company brought back events? (4:52)
- How has the pandemic changed Ironman events? (7:32)
- What is the business outlook for 2022? Are races selling out? (9:30)
- Is the Ironman approach going virtual? (11:10)
- What goes into determining new locations for Ironman events? (14:13)
- How does the Ironman CRM system help in determining potential new host cities? (16:14)
- The importance that Ironman places on the relationship with host cities (19:08)
- Relocating the Ironman World Championship from Hawaii to St. George, Utah (20:43)
- The launch of the UTMB Trail Running World Series (24:34)
- The biggest opportunity for growth in mass participation events (29:26)