Ironman Targets Wall Street Endurance Athletes With NYC Event

Ironman Targets Wall Street Endurance Athletes
Athletes ride during the 40k biking portion of the New York City Triathlon in New York. urce: New York City Triathlon via Bloomberg

World Triathlon Corporation is close to bringing an Ironman race to New York City as it seeks to capitalize on the growth of endurance sports among financial professionals.

The group is in negotiations with city officials about staging its marquee event in Manhattan, said Steve Meckfessel, chief operating officer of World Triathlon, which owns and operates Ironman events.

“There are a lot of entities and moving parts and permits that need to be completed,” Meckfessel said in a telephone interview. “This is permitting on steroids when it comes to New York.”

The first 140.6-mile (226.2-kilometer) Ironman race in New York would be the 24th held annually around the world by World Triathlon. The Ironman was created in Hawaii in 1978 and consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

Contract talks to bring an event to New York are in “the final stages,” Ironman spokeswoman Jessica Weidensall said, and an accord may be signed very soon.

“Nothing is finalized,” Weidensall said in a telephone interview. “We do not have a signed contract.”

Andrew Cole, a spokesman for Providence Equity Partners Inc., the Providence, Rhode Island-based buyout firm that purchased World Triathlon in 2008, declined to comment.

Korff Partnership

The event would be staged in partnership with Korff Enterprises, which operates the Olympic-distance Nautica NYC Triathlon, Meckfessel said.

“We’re close, but I thought we were close about three years ago,” Korff Enterprises owner John Korff said in a telephone interview. “It’s like being at 26 miles in the marathon.”

World Triathlon recently partnered with Korff, who has been working on bringing an Ironman to New York for seven years, and the NYC Triathlon to promote the event as part of Ironman’s 5150 Triathlon Series.

The 11-year-old NYC Triathlon, which is scheduled for Aug. 7, consists of a .9-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run.

The 2010 NYC Triathlon sold out in six minutes, according to Korff. Entrance for this year’s event was conducted via lottery in November.

Popularity Soars

In the decade after triathlon first appeared in the Olympics in 2000, membership of USA Triathlon soared to 135,000 from 20,000, according to the sport’s governing body in the U.S.

Ironman competitors have an average annual income of $161,000, according to World Triathlon.

“Our athletes come from a very high demographic profile, with high incomes and a high status within their professional pursuits,” Meckfessel said.

The swim would take place in the Hudson River, Korff said. Meckfessel said the run would likely be two loops of a 13.1-mile circuit rather than the New York City Marathon course, which begins in Staten Island and ends in Central Park.

Competitors have 17 hours to finish an Ironman, making it difficult to close large sections of the city, Meckfessel said.

The earliest an Ironman could be held in New York would be 2012, though 2013 may be more realistic, Korff said.

Ironman world champion Chris McCormack of Australia will speak at a June 7 event at the Harvard Club of New York City to discuss “New York City’s Newest Triathlon,” according to a listing on the website. Robin Hood Endurance, which is affiliated with a charity that helps fund poverty programs and groups in New York, is organizing the event.

World Triathlon gets its revenue from races -- including the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii -- licensing deals with companies such as athletic shoemaker K-Swiss Inc. and watchmaker Timex, and sponsorships with companies including Ford Motor Co. and General Mills Inc.

Ironman’s brands also include Irongirl, Ironman 70.3 and Ironkids.

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