It seems as if more people are trying to become more health conscious by engaging in activities that have a competition focus. People keep track of their 10Ks and half marathon times to compare with friends. Crossfit is as much about competition as it is about working out — and has developed into actual competitions with the CrossFit Games. Ironman triathlons are one of the original endurance competitions, and it is no surprise that fans involvement and interest is increasing as the competitions expand globally.
There is definitely a new phenomenon where exercise has now become global competition. From Tough Mudders, to CrossFit games, endurance sports have become more involved and sponsors and media companies have taken notice. “We’ve been a pioneer in endurance sports approaching 40 years now, and we’ve seen tremendous growth by domestically and internationally,” said Ironman CEO Andrew Messick. There are now 40 Ironman competitions around the world and 90 half-distance Ironmans. The sport continues to grow as more people get involved with physical fitness. Ironman has its first race in Colombia this year and it also returns to China.
And that brings in more business from sponsors to international investors. Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese company with an insatiable appetite for sports and entertainment properties, purchased the endurance race series in 2015. Messick said there are two broad benefits of Wanda’s involvement. “We now have a long-term owner of our business that is strategic and permanent, and that is useful because we can think about long-term initiatives. Wanda also gives us unique remarkable access to the second largest and fastest growing economy in the world (China).” The opportunity as a brand, sport, and event organizer is there for Ironman and Wanda provides expertise and knowledge that other endurance sports may not have.
Sponsors should benefit as well. “We are involved in the United States, we are involved in Argentina, we are growing in China. We are a global brand that wants to help leverage our relationships with our sponsors and if Wanda or other partners are part of that, of course we will do that to help grow the sport,” explained Messick. That type of global outlook should help the sport grow as more and more people get involved with exercise and endurance events.