Standard Bank has announced that it has become the title sponsor of the South African leg of Ironman.
As a result of this new partnership, Ironman South Africa has been elevated to a continental championship race.
The event will be known as the Standard Bank Ironman African Championship, and will be hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay. This places it as one of the top six Ironman events in the world.
Michael Flanagan, media co-ordinator for World Endurance Africa Holdings, said the sponsorship is over three years and is worth R9 million “per year for three years”. This covers the Ironman African Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay, Ironman 70.3 South Africa in Buffalo City, the 5150 Bela Bela Triathlon and the 5150 African Championship in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
The sponsorship will give Standard Bank, the largest African bank by assets and earnings, first-class brand positioning at the annual event, which involves a 3.8km swim, 180.2km cycle and 42.2km run.
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.
“Triathlon – and Ironman in particular – exemplifies all the qualities that Standard Bank stands for: hard work, dedication, endurance and a commitment to be in it for the long-haul,” Ben Kruger, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group, said at the sponsorship launch held at the Inanda Club in Johannesburg recently.
“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,” he said.
“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, said, “The event has grown phenomenally over the last decade and the time has now come to take [it] to the next stage of its long-term evolution.”
Participation in Ironman South Africa has grown from just 786 entrants in 2005 to 2 371 in 2014, a 202% increase over that time frame. Flanagan said Ironman South Africa will stay in Port Elizabeth.
“With Ironman South Africa becoming the Ironman African Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay, this means that even if additional Ironman races open anywhere in Africa, the event in Nelson Mandela Bay will remain the Ironman African Championship and be the flagship Ironman race on the African continent. It is also a wonderful fit as Port Elizabeth is the home of Ironman in Africa as well as the city where Standard Bank traces its roots,” Flanagan said.
Ironman 70.3 South Africa has also grown in terms of participation, from 864 entrants in the inaugural 2008 event to 2 926 entrants in the 2015 event, an increase of 239% since it began.
Standard Bank remains committed to its current sponsorships of other sporting events 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.
Athletes still wanting to take part in the Ironman South Africa 2014 event better get their entries in, as Flanagan said that about 1 000 places remain.
It is limited to 2 500 entrants.