Ford Pumps Up Ironman Contests

NEW YORK Ford Motor Co. has signed a three-year deal to become title sponsor of six Ironman Triathlon events in the U.S., including five qualifying events and the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship, according to the automaker.

The deal is the first title sponsorship for the Ironman events in 10 years. Financial terms were not released. The professional prize purse for the 2005 Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii will be increased by $100,000 to a total $580,000.

Ford SUVs will serve as pace and chase vehicles for each event, and will provide additional vehicle support for race staff and participants. The Ironman Triathlon attracts more than 50,000 athletes from around the world each year. It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycling leg and a 26.2-mile run completed in succession within a 17-hour allotted time frame.

“Like Ford, the Ironman brand epitomizes capability and a drive for excellence,” Martin Collins, general marketing manager, Ford Division, said in a statement. “This alliance is a perfect fit, since triathletes around the world already rely on our SUVs to help them train and travel to triathlon events. It’s a great way for us to express that like these outstanding athletes, Ford SUVs are built to do more.”

In 2005, Ford will be title sponsor of: Ford Florida Half Ironman Triathlon, May 22, Walt Disney Resort, Orlando, Fla.; Ford Ironman USA Coeur d’Alene Triathlon, June 26, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Ford Ironman USA Lake Placid Triathlon, July 24, Lake Placid, N.Y.; Ford Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon, Sept. 11, Madison, Wis.; Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship, Oct. 15, Kailua Kona, Hawaii; and Ford Ironman Florida Triathlon, Nov. 5, Panama City, Fla.