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Ironman CEO Andrew Messick has announced he will retire in 2023. He will remain a stakeholder and member of the Ironman Group board of directors following the recruitment and appointment of a new CEO.
“Leaving this leadership role with Ironman is difficult, as my love for this company runs deep,” Messick said in a statement released by Ironman today. “I did my first Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlons nearly two decades ago, long before I had any affiliation with the organization. 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.”
Messick, who joined Ironman in 2011 after serving as president of AEG Sports and senior vice president at the National Basketball Association, has seen the brand through more than a decade of ownership changes and global expansion. Under Messick, the series has grown from 25 Ironman and 54 70.3 races to more than 170 Ironman, 70.3, and 5150 Series races worldwide; participation numbers in Ironman and 70.3 events also grew from 137,000 to 295,000. In that time, the company has also acquired dozens of Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Events, ultrarunning’s UTMB World Series, and the Epic Series of mountain bike races.
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Messick’s list of accomplishments also includes the creation of initiatives to encourage diversity in triathlon through programs like Women for Tri, Race for Change, and the addition of Physically Challenged/Intellectual Disability and Open race categories. In 2022, Messick also presided over the first-ever two-day Ironman World Championship, giving women their own day of clean, fair racing and a spotlight for women in triathlon.
News of the CEO’s departure comes after a challenging few years for the brand. In addition to the challenges of a global pandemic that forced the cancellation, postponement, and/or modification of races around the world, Ironman has faced criticism for its handling of hostilities with host cities, its decision to split its World Championship event into two separate locations, and most recently, a deadly crash at Ironman Hamburg.
Ironman has not given specifics of the search for a new CEO yet, but a spokesperson tells Triathlete it’s “ongoing.”
“I am proud of the organization we have built with senior leaders and a global team of dedicated individuals who have been the backbone of our success,” Messick said. “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.”