Monday, September 04, 2006

CEO Ironman Challenge 2007 Schedule

CEO Ironman Challenge events will be offered at six locations around the world in 2007, beginning in March in South Africa, and ending in October at the CEO Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii (CEOs must qualify at a previous event for the World Championship).

CEO Challenge LLC is pleased to announce that CEO Ironman Challenge events will be offered in conjunction with the following Ironman races in 2007:

Spec Savers Ironman South Africa – March 18
Port Elizabeth, includes a post-race African safari
Panthers Ironman Australia – April 1 In Port Macquarie, and hosted by legendary triathlete Chris Legh
Ironman France – June 17 In Nice, on the French Riviera
Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene – June 24 Quickly becoming one of the most popular Ironman races in the world
Standard Chartered Ironman Korea – August 26 On the beautiful island of Jeju


“When Business Competition is not enough…”

CEO Challenge LLC was officially created in May of 2005, but the CEO Ironman Challenge has been taking place since 2001. The original concept was to have a competition between YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) and YEO (Young Entrepreneurs’’ Organization) over a full Ironman distance triathlon of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile marathon run to see who had the fittest members. Not surprisingly, there was only one person that signed up so the concept was quickly changed to be open to any CEOs.

The first CEO Challenge took place at Ironman USA Lake Placid with 15 competitors. The ‘race within the race’ was featured on the ESPN coverage of the Ironman, and CNBC sent a film crew to cover the action. At first it was just something that was fun to do, and gave Ironman some incremental business press. Little did we know what this tiny beginning would lead to…

In 2005 the CEO Ironman Challenge expanded to three races around the world with 45 CEOs competing for the right to go to Hawaii for the CEO Ironman World Championship. In October, Frank Karbe of Exelixis in San Francisco won the CEO Championship and rights to the title of Fittest CEO in the World® for one year (Leslie Myers of Foodsense in Burlington, VT was the female champion).

2006 has seen further expansion of the concept, with CEO Ironman Challenge events taking place at five races around the world – South Africa, Australia, France, Lake Placid, and Korea.

2006 has also seen an expansion of the CEO Challenge concept to a number of other sports. There will be CEO Golf Challenge events held at the four ‘Majors’ with qualifiers moving on to a World Championship, the addition of CEO Marathon Challenge events at LA and San Francisco, and the first-ever CEO Triathlon Challenge at the Ironman 70.3 in Monaco. Plans are moving along to expand the concept to Cycling, Tennis, Sailing, and even Fishing.

CEO Challenge LLC has become the world leader in sport competitions for CEOs. Ted Kennedy, the founder and President states, “We are the only people in the world doing this. Which either means we’re really, really smart, or really, really stupid. Time will tell – stay tuned.”

When asked why the CEO Ironman Challenge is so popular, Kennedy commented, “There are some common elements among the CEOs that take part in the event. First, they really do love to compete. They compete for business constantly, and love the feeling of accomplishment when they achieve success – it becomes contagious. Second, these are people that have typically achieved any goal they have set out for themselves, and when it comes to endurance sports, there is no goal greater than finishing an Ironman. Finally, they like to be around people like themselves – goal setting over-achievers who let nothing get in their way.”

He continues, “It seems I have somehow become the world ‘expert’ in CEOs that do endurance events. I am constantly asked how these people can possibly juggle running a company, looking after family needs, crazy travel schedules, and training for something like an Ironman. I have asked many CEOs this same question over the years, and the ‘secret’ is actually pretty boring – they get up very early. Most say they get up at 4:30, train, and are at their desk by 8. When asked why they bother working out so hard, the vast majority mention that they love this time all to themselves, that this is when they do their best thinking, and that working out is now a part of who they are.”

To make a CEO Challenge program a success, Kennedy and his team have found that the events need seven common criteria:
1. An actual competition among CEOs, with an absolute winner declared in each age group (if relevant), and overall
2. Incorporate a business training / idea sharing exercise and /or guest lecturer relevant to the group
3. Top finishers gain access to a 'World Championship' where they compete against qualifiers from other events for the title of World CEO Champion
4. Include access that is not available to the general public (e.g., the finish line at the Ironman)
5. Exclusive 'meet & greet' opportunities with Pros / Coaches / Personalities / Insiders in the sport
6. First class all the way, with wonderful VIP opportunities for the CEO and his / her guests, and one price covers all expenses
7. Raise money for a charity that is relevant to the CEOs taking part

As an example of this, the CEO Ironman Challenge events are set up to be a very real competition between CEOs with winners, and Kona qualifiers, in each age group. On the Thursday before the race a CEO Welcome Dinner is organized, and many of the world’s top Ironman athletes attend. The entry fee is ‘one price’ and includes luxury accommodation, entry to the sold-out races, uniforms, VIP passes for all special events, a contribution to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and lots of special perks. On race day the guests of the competing CEOs are brought to the best viewing areas, and a team of spotters update them on the progress of the CEOs throughout the day. And the ‘crème de la crème’ is that the first people the CEO sees when he or she finally crosses that finish line is his family with the medal to put around his neck.

Unfortunately for the CEOs, once the families get a taste of being catered to all day, relaxing in the VIP tent while Mom or Dad is racing, then having the chance to meet them in the finish chute, they are spoiled for life. The return rate for CEO competitors is 50%, with most of them saying their family won’t even come to watch unless they take part in the CEO Challenge. One CEO likened the experience as the difference between flying Southwest and flying in a private jet.

This is an interesting time for the company. The launch of the new golf events is going well, with some very exciting plans for cycling and tennis to be announced soon. CEO Challenge has pushed organizers hard to find perks and access for CEO competitors that money virtually cannot buy. It is this unparalleled access combined with incredible attention to detail, that will hopefully launch the business in the coming years. As you heard before – stay tuned….

About CEO Challenge LLC
CEO Challenge LLC is a company that specializes in designing high end ‘inside the ropes’ exclusive multi-day sport experiences for CEOs and their guests, including CEO Ironman, Golf, Triathlon, and Marathon Challenge events, with more to follow. Information can be found at or by contacting Ted Kennedy at, or at 720-222-3043.

About Ted Kennedy
Kennedy is often regarded as the world expert in CEOs that compete in endurance events, particularly Ironman. He started the first CEO Ironman Challenge in 2001, and launched CEO Challenge LLC in 2005. His background includes 20 years as a sale & marketing executive in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry and six years as VP of Sales & Marketing for Ironman North America. He was one of the original four people that started Ironman North America in 1999, and was successful in bringing companies such as Janus, Kellogg’s, HSBC and Ford into the sport.