March 7, 2012, Berkeley, CA – The 1996 Ironman World Championship presented some historic firsts: Luc Van Lierde became the first European champion. The Belgian set a world record that wasn’t matched until 2011. And all 1,449 competitors were introduced to a powerful, brand-new boost of energy for their long day in Kona: a new product called “energy gel,” supplied by GU Energy Labs of Berkeley, California.
GU created the first energy gel in 1994, and its quick adoption by the toughest race on earth, began a long partnership between the two brands. Today, GU is enormously proud to announce that it has returned to Kona and beyond with a two-year agreement with Ironman to be the official energy gel and energy chew supplier in the United States.
As the first gel sponsor of Ironman, GU is intimately familiar with the unique energy needs of Ironman athletes. Original GU Gel, Roctane Ultra Endurance Gels, and GU Chomps will be on course, offering Ironman athletes a spectrum of tasty, high-performance energy solutions with the aim of getting competitors to the finish faster — and feeling better.
“It’s like coming home,” said GU Energy president Brian Vaughan. “We have a historic tie to Ironman, and while our connection with Ironman athletes has never waned, we’re really pleased to be able to step up and serve in an official capacity as an event sponsor for these pinnacle events.”
The agreement covers all US events — ten Ironman events — including the World Championships — as well as all twenty-seven 70.3 events including the Las Vegas 70.3 World Championship.
“We are excited to welcome GU back to our family of partners,” said Erik Vervloet, Chief Marketing Officer for Ironman. “A large part of our success depends on strategic partnerships. The synergy between these two brands is evident. Neither will compromise when it comes to delivering what it takes to get competitors across the finish line. The team at GU shares our passion for providing the key elements an Ironman athlete needs to excel.”
Reflecting the rapid growth in triathlon overall, Ironman and its portfolio of brands have witnessed historic numbers in recent years. The inaugural Ironman U.S. Championship sold out in just over 11 minutes. Overall participation numbers for Ironman races now sit at more than 25,000 in the U.S. alone, up from mere hundreds in the 1970s. The number of participants in domestic Ironman 70.3 events is more than 50,000, while the 5150 Triathlon Series sees approximately 15,000 athletes across events in the U.S.
ABOUT GU ENERGY LABS
GU’s original Energy Gel was launched in 1994 in Berkeley, CA. GU Energy Labs consistent innovation keeps GU at the forefront of the industry. Roctane, Chomps and GU Recovery Brew are staples of endurance athletes worldwide, providing scientifically-proven, performance-tested nutrition. For more information about GU, log onto GUenergy.com
The iconic Ironman® brand and event series is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since its inception in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Recognized for excellence through distinguished events, world-class athletes and quality products, World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owner and operator of the Ironman brand, has grown from a single race to a global sensation with more than 180 events across five unique brands: Ironman, Ironman 70.3®, 5150™ Triathlon Series, Iron Girl® and IronKids™. With support from partners, including Timex, PowerBar, K-Swiss and TYR, more than 200,000 athletes compete each season in the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 series. For more information, visit ironman.com.