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Klaus Runer are attracting marketers including Reebok and PR Nutrition. EVENTS & PROMOTIONS;IRONMAN'S A WINNER GRUELING EVENT GIVES MARKETERS CHANCE TO PUMP UP THEIR BRANDS

By Published on .

The ironman triathlon appears to be wildly popular with consumers, but only a fraction of its fans will actually follow the grueling event Oct. 26 in Hawaii.

Instead, they will be relaxing in Ironman apparel, identifying with the intense athletes without breaking a sweat.

Soon, there will be even more opportunities to sport Ironman gear, as this year's event begins a new push into additional mass-marketed licensed products.

At the 20th running of the Ironman Triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Reebok International will introduce a line of Ironman shoes, Huffy Bicycles will debut an Ironman mountain bike and PR Nutrition will take the wraps off its new Ironman high-energy bar.

HUFFY'S BIGGEST AD PUSH

Huffy's biggest-ever ad campaign, breaking next April, centers on the Ironman bike with TV and print ads from Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago.

These products join Timex Corp.'s growing family of Ironman watches, which it says are the world's No. 2-selling watch line, and bring to about a dozen the number of Ironman licensees marketing products to triathletes and couch potatoes alike.

"It's really become a case of the marketing program transcending the event," said David Yates, president of Tarpon Springs, Fla.-based World Triathlon Corp.

His company began an aggressive marketing and licensing program for the event two years ago, spotlighting the extreme challenges of the event. More than 1,500 competitors must swim 2.4 miles in the Pacific Ocean, bicycle 112 miles and run a 26.2-mile marathon in less than 17 hours.

This year World Triathlon decided to forgo a title sponsor to broaden the tie-in opportunities for marketers.

The Ironman won't be broadcast until Dec. 11 by NBC, and it will be broadcast again in July, but that's fine with World Triathlon, which is striving to create year-round awareness of the event and its 20 qualifying competitions.

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