Standard Bank Group and IRONMAN South Africa have entered into a sponsorship agreement that will secure the long-term sustainability of one of the country's premier endurance events. It will at the same time enable Standard Bank Group to extend its brand reach to the fast-growing sport of triathlon.
The sponsorship will give Standard Bank Group first class brand positioning at the annual IRONMAN event hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, which involves a 3.8km swim, 180.2km cycle and 42.2km run. The individual legs must be completed consecutively within a time limit of 17 hours, making the IRONMAN one of the toughest one-day endurance events in the world. The sponsorship will involve all of World Endurance Africa Holdings' major event properties, IRONMAN South Africa, IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa and the 5150 African Triathlon Series.
As a result of the new partnership with Standard Bank Group, the World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the IRONMAN brand, has elevated the status of IRONMAN South Africa to a continental championship race with the event becoming the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship, hosted by Nelson Mandela Bay.
This places the event as one of the top six IRONMAN events in the world. With this change comes a prize purse of US$150 000 for professionals, increased world championship qualifying points and 75 qualifying slots to the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii for amateur athletes.
"Triathlon - and IRONMAN in particular - exemplifies all the qualities that Standard Bank Group stands for: hard work, dedication, endurance and a commitment to be in it for the long-haul," says Ben Kruger, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group.
"IRONMAN is a highly aspirational brand that encapsulates all the qualities that are universally admired - grit, determination, the desire to succeed and the will to inspire those around you. These factors, coupled with the phenomenal growth in triathlon and IRONMAN over the last few years, is why this partnership makes for a compelling brand awareness proposition."
Keith Bowler, Managing Director of IRONMAN South Africa, says: "The annual IRONMAN South Africa event in Nelson Mandela Bay has grown phenomenally over the last decade and the time has now come to take the event to the next stage of its long-term evolution.
"To achieve that goal we couldn't have asked for a better partner than Standard Bank, which through its global standing as Africa's biggest bank as well as its Pan African presence, will enable us to further enhance IRONMAN South Africa's international standing and establish roots for growth into Africa."
Participation in IRONMAN South Africa has grown from just 786 entrants in 2005 to 2371 in 2014, a 202% increase over that time frame. The biggest age group in the 2014 IRONMAN South Africa event was the 40-44 years segment while almost half of all participants were first timers. Participation in IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa (Half IRONMAN) has climbed from 864 entrants in the inaugural 2008 event to 2926 entrants in the 2015 event, an increase of 239% since the event started.
"Our research indicated that outside the major sporting codes, much of the public interest was in running, swimming and cycling," says Mr Kruger.
"Triathlon offers us a single entry point into all three of these sporting codes. The quality of IRONMAN South Africa's development programme and the aspirational nature of the sport, which promotes a healthy, positive lifestyle, were also major points of attraction for Standard Bank."
Standard Bank Group remains committed to its current sponsorships of other sporting codes and the arts, which range from contributions to Pan-African CAF football properties, schools rugby, the Joy of Jazz, Innibos, Standard Bank Jazz Festival and the National Arts festival. Standard Bank Group continually reviews its sponsorship initiatives to ensure that they are aligned to its long-term strategic objectives.
2015 IRONMAN SA events
Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa - 25 January 2015, Buffalo City
Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship - 29 March 2015, Nelson Mandela Bay
Standard Bank 5150 Bela Bela Triathlon - 22 August 2015, Bela Bela
Standard Bank 5150 African Championship hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni - 1 November 2015, City of Ekurhuleni
Read more about IRONMAN at www.ironman.com.