Challenge Family Terminates Challenge Cairns and Australian Contract with USM Events


(March 13, 2012) – Challenge Family has terminated its agreement with USM Events to deliver Challenge Cairns following breach of contract by USM Events.

The termination follows the purchase of USM Events by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a US-based organisation that operates 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 athlete and family oriented alternative to existing Ironman races within Australia. The event, organized in close cooperation with Events Queensland and Tourism Queensland, also provided a boost to the Cairns economy attracting many athletes from around Australia and overseas 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.

“Although we are a global organisation, Challenge Family is still a family-run operation and this filters down to the athlete at all our races, creating the unique atmosphere and experience for the athletes,” he said. “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. Challenge races are known for their excellent athlete race experience to the athletes and commitment to the communities in which they take place .For further information, visit or or follow us on Twitter @Challenge_Famil


Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.