The Triathlon Branding Battle

  • By
  • Published Jun 3, 2014
Kona is the ultimate goal for many age-group triathletes. Photo: John David Becker

In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Frederick Dreier writes about the difficulty of getting athletes to race in non-Ironman branded long-distance triathlons.

The Ironman triathlon coming to Chattanooga, Tenn., in September sold out 2,500 slots in under a minute.

The Hits triathlons feature races exactly as demanding: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. The events have averaged just 30 registrants this year.

It’s hard to see much difference between the two beyond the logo.

As Ironman races swell in popularity in North America with more weekend warriors competing, rival races are popping up. They are finding, though, that it can be hard to attract competitors without the name Ironman, even with lower entry fees. Meanwhile, the Ironman series, run by World Triathlon Corp., which owns the Ironman trademark, has ballooned to 35 global races, many with waiting lists.

Kem Akol, a real-estate agent in Santa Cruz, Calif., decided to organize an event of his own and build a business out of it after completing his 28th Ironman triathlon. Given the demand, Mr. Akol believed that athletes would flock when race registration opened in March.

Since he couldn’t call it an Ironman, he named it CapitolaMan, after the nearby town of Capitola. As of Monday afternoon, only 36 athletes had signed up. “We’re going to have a good time, no matter how many people show up on race day,” Mr. Akol says. “I’m still optimistic.”

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FILED UNDER: Ironman / News

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