The termination follows the purchase of USM Events by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), who operate the Ironman brand. Owned by a private equity investment firm specialising in leveraged buyout transactions, Providence Equity Partners, Ironman/WTC is the main competitor to the Challenge Family brand.
Challenge Cairns launched in 2011, attracting some of the biggest names in the sport and providing triathletes with an alternative to existing Ironman races within Australia with the long term goal of becoming a legacy event for the North Queensland region.
Felix Walchshöfer, Challenge Family CEO, said the new ownership structure of USM Events did not allow Challenge Cairns to continue under their management based on the contractual and ownership status.
“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."
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.
The Challenge Family global series of long distance triathlons features 12 races throughout Europe and Australasia, including the world’s largest iron distance event, Challenge Roth in Germany. For further information, visit www.challenge-family.com.