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Ironman Cairns sees Challenge Family terminate USM contract

Hot on the heels of its acquisition of USM Events, World Triathlon Corp (WTC) is adding Ironman Cairns to its 2012 lineup. In response, Challenge Family has terminated its agreement with USM Events to deliver Challenge Cairns following what it calls a ‘breach of contract’ by the Australian event organiser.

Challenge Family response
As noted by the Challenge Family in a release, ‘The termination follows the purchase of USM Events by WTC… Ironman/WTC is the main competitor to the Challenge Family brand.’ Meanwhile, Felix Walchshöfer, Challenge Family CEO, said the new ownership structure of USM Events did not allow Challenge Cairns to continue under USM’s 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,” Walchshöfer 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.

As noted by the Challenge Family, 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.

Ironman Cairns 2012
Ironman Cairns will take place on 3 June 2012. 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 2012 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

It will be a P-2000 level race and will offer a €100,000 professional prize purse. Additionally, 40 Ironman World Championship qualifying slots will be available for age group athletes.

“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.”

Additional information about Ironman Cairns will be available in the coming days at www.ironman.com and www.usmevents.com.au. Athlete inquiries should be directed to Brisbane[at]usmevents.com.au.