Inside China's Endurance Sports Empire (Dalian Wanda), from Fortune Magazine-A Must Read!

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Reposted on September 30, 2017.

This was a strong piece and has attracted much attention. Please make sure you read this piece from Fortune Magazine on one of the key future players in our sport.

The world of road racing is changing. And if you are not familiar with Dalian Wanda, you will be very soon. Wanda purchased IRONMAN brand less than two years ago. This past year, IRONMAN purchased Competitor Group (CGI) and Dalian Wanda became a ten year partner of the World Marathon Majors.

The sport, it is a changing. Marathon participation and half marathon participation is down significantly. CGI closed some races, as have others, this past year. In a recent interview with RunBlogRun, Naperville Running Company founder Kris Hartner suggested that race directors stop coming up with new races, and work on making existing races better.

Dalian Wanda is making a huge investment in endurance sports. They are betting the middle class Chinese will embrace running and endurance events. Dalian Wanda has been gobbling up much of the sporting events around the world. Lots of questions here, how will they make their mark on the sport, is it good for the sport and how will the competition react?

This fine article in Fortune and Endurance Sportswire is a good way to help you consider the changes to running that are right around the corner. More than anything, you will learn about Andrew Messick, the CEO at IRONMAN and the man who will interpret Dalian Wanda for the running community.

Andrew Messick.jpg

RACING KINGS: Andrew Messick who helped turn Ironman races into a global success, now leads Wanda's endurance-sports unit. He oversees the popular Rock 'n' Roll series of marathons and half-marathons. Photo: Brook Pifer (courtesy of Fortune magazine, all copyrights reserved for photographer and Fortune).

Inside China's Endurance Sports Empire

Sixteen years ago, Andrew Messick was an executive on the rise at the National Basketball Association--and suffering from early-onset middle-aged blahs. Constant travel and long hours had led him to pack on the pounds, leaving him easily tired and plagued with back problems.

That's when the former high school track athlete and UC-Davis rugby player rediscovered exercise. He started with short bike rides in New York City's Central Park, then graduated to longer excursions. He taught himself to swim competitively. And by 2005 he had found his obsession: Ironman triathlons. "Ironmans" are the gold standard for amateur endurance athletes: Each consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon--with no breaks.

As Messick trained, his weight fell as low as 170 pounds from a peak of 210, relieving his long-suffering back. Messick, 53, has now done three full-length Ironmans and competes frequently in shorter triathlons. Above all, he says, competing satisfies him emotionally: "It fills an elemental need in people, which is to know, 'Can I do it?' "

Today it's Messick's job to persuade millions more people to answer that question. In 2011 he became CEO of World Triathlon Corp. (WTC), which organizes Ironman and other sporting events worldwide. In 2015, WTC was acquired by Chinese mega-conglomerate Dalian Wanda, and this year, Wanda bought the world's largest organizer of marathons and half-marathons. Messick, who oversees the combined operation, now faces an Olympian challenge: generating demand for such events among China's rising cohort of middle-class, deskbound consumers.

Like other maturing industries, endurance sports are looking to China for invigoration. Endurance events are a nearly $2 billion market in the U.S., according to IBISWorld, but its biggest category--marathons and half-marathons--has stopped growing in the United Startes.

To read complete article in orginal form:

Special thanks to Bruce Morrison, publisher of Running Journal

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