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IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick announces he’s stepping down

His 12 years in charge have seen significant changes and now IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick has announced his retirement.

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It has just been announced that Andrew Messick is to retire after 12 years as President and CEO of the IRONMAN Group.

Messick will remain a stakeholder and member of the Board of Directors following the recruitment and appointment of a new CEO.

Under Messick’s leadership IRONMAN became the world’s largest organiser of mass participation events and has expanded into road running, trail running, road cycling, mountain biking and digital training platforms.

Andrew Messick on retirement

Messick has led the company for over a decade through multiple ownership groups, ultimately partnering with long-term focused owners Advance and Orkila Capital, with that sale completed on 21 July 2020.

That was in the midst of the global COVID pandemic and Messick has also had to navigate other challenges in recent times including the split locations of Kona and Nice for the IRONMAN World Championship this year. Then more recently the furore which followed the tragic death of a motorcycle operator in a horrific accident at IRONMAN Hamburg last month.

“Being the CEO of The IRONMAN Group has been the professional honour of my life – the most meaningful and purposeful work experience I have had – and I am filled with gratitude for the support of my team members, our partners, and the athlete community over the past 12 years,” said Messick.

“I have given all I have to this job and my life has been enriched by the opportunity to build incredible events, meet athlete community members from all over the world, and lead an incredibly dedicated group of colleagues.”

IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick [Photo credit: Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images for IRONMAN]
IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick [Photo credit: Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images for IRONMAN]
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Looking to the future

Messick joined the IRONMAN Group in 2011 and under his charge they built up a portfolio of hundreds of events annually across more than 50 countries in triathlon.

Key brands acquired or developed alongside the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon series include the UTMB World Series, Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, Epic Series of mountain biking events anchored by the Absa Cape Epic, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, and FulGaz virtual cycling digital platform.

Throughout his tenure, Messick tasked his team with creating and delivering opportunities for individuals around the world to experience the life-changing benefits of endurance sports.

He added: “I am proud of the organisation we have built with senior leaders and a global team of dedicated individuals who have been the backbone of our success. Combined with a supportive long-term focused ownership group in Advance and Orkila Capital, and a passionate base of athletes, the company is well positioned for the future.”

Jesse Du Bey, Managing Partner for Orkila Capital, said: “Andrew and I first bonded 15 years ago over our shared love for IRONMAN and have worked together since 2011. It has been amazing to watch the business transform under his leadership.

“He has been a powerful force in growing the IRONMAN Group – endurance sport, and particularly triathlon – all over the world. We are all grateful for his service to the sport and look forward to his next chapter as a member of the Board.”

And Janine Shelffo, Chief Strategy & Development Officer at Advance, added: “Our partnership with Andrew and confidence in his leadership were critical to Advance’s decision in March of 2020 to acquire the IRONMAN Group while an unprecedented and unpredictable pandemic disruption to the live events industry was well underway.

It is thanks to his steady stewardship that The IRONMAN Group has emerged from that disruption well poised to capitalize on the tremendous long-term opportunities we see ahead. I am grateful for his dedication and his longstanding commitment to inspiring athletes worldwide

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Participation the driving force

Prior to joining the IRONMAN Group in 2011, Messick served as President of AEG Sports where he played a leading role for its sports teams and properties, including the Amgen Tour of California, Bay to Breakers foot race, Euroleague Basketball, and AEG China. Prior to that, Messick was the Senior Vice President, International for the National Basketball Association where he was responsible for overseeing the NBA’s network of international offices and for leading the NBA’s efforts to globalize.

Messick’s love for endurance sports played a key role in his decision to join The IRONMAN Group as CEO in 2011 and he has been a fixture over the past 12 years at hundreds of events all over the world.

He explained: “Leaving this leadership role with IRONMAN is difficult, as my love for this company runs deep. I did my first IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons nearly two decades ago, long before I had any affiliation with the organisation. What I have learned and seen at the races have been some of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I have always been a true believer in the life-changing nature of our races, our mission, and our brand.”

TRI247 says…

Messick – and IRONMAN – have often divided opinion but during his 12-year tenure there have undoubtedly been many significant advances.

There has been a massive growth in the 70.3 format and a global rotation of the 70.3 World Championships, which this year will take place in Finland.

He has overseen two acquisitions (Dalian Wanda Group and Advance) and outside of triathlon the company has successfully shifted to endurance sports globally with the development of trail running with UTMB, mountain biking (the Epic Series) and road cycling (Haute Route) among others.

In that timeframe IRONMAN has grown from 25 races to 44 globally, while IRONMAN 70.3 jumped from 54 races to 124. Those are impressive figures as is the fact that registered participation in the former increased from approximately 52,000 athletes to over 95,000, with the 70.3 numbers going from 85,000 to 200,000.

In 2022, the first ever IRONMAN World Championship outside of Hawaii took place when the 2021 event was rescheduled to St George.

And later that year saw the first two-day IRONMAN World Championship, meaning the women and men raced on separate days.

While there were many benefits of that, it did lead to this year’s contentious decision to have the first co-hosted IMWC, with the men in Nice, France and women in Kona.

And there have also been important initiatives such as Race for Change, Women For Tri, All World Athlete, Tri Club, IRONMAN U, PC/ID and Open Category race divisions.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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