Oakley Shows A Strong Presence at Ironman 2006
On October 21, 2006, the 30th Hawaii Ironman Championship took place in Kona, Hawaii. This event showcases some of the most extraordinary people on earth – the men and women who compete in the ultimate test of human endurance: the triathlon. This year, 1700 athletes participated from over 50 different countries. To be eligible to compete in the Ironman Championship, each participant has to qualify in an Ironman endorsed triathlon. Age range of participants was between 21-80. The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, all of which must be completed within a 17 hour time period.
Oakley’s presence at Ironman 2006 was overwhelming, as Ironman is an event focused on elite sports performance. Athletes and spectators alike were sporting Oakley eyewear and apparel, both sport-specific and lifestyle.
Several athletes participating in the Ironman were wearing Oakley products. Winner Normann Stadler wore the new performance piece, Radar, which will be available in March 2007. Other athletes wearing Oakley included last year’s winner Faris Al Sultan, Lisa Bentley, Kate Major, Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden, Chris Lieto, Natascha Badmann and Luke Bell.
Aside from its strong showing in the Ironman event itself, Oakley made its presence known through other avenues beginning with their sponsorship of the Underpants Run, a run that took place Thursday, October 19 and benefited the Special Olympics. Oakley supported the event, donating $2,500 to the Special Olympics. Additionally, Oakley also held a raffle for an Oakley Thump Pro as well as several other Oakley Thump products. Thump Pro, which will be available in November 2006, combines Oakley optical innovation with the performance of cutting-edge audio. Tickets for the raffle were sold for $5 a piece. Oakley’s total donation to the Special Olympics amounted to over $7,000.
Also during the week leading up to Ironman, Oakley hosted an O Museum which showcased the evolution of Oakley’s sport-specific eyewear history in the triathlon space. The museum featured heritage products on display such as the original Factory Pilot® worn by Scott Tinley, the Oakley Blade™ worn by Mark Allen, the HALF JACKET® worn by Peter Reid, the Mumbo® worn by Greg Welch and the M FRAME® worn by Natascha Badmann. Also showcased was the Thump Pro, soon to be available in November. Demonstrations of elements of Oakley’s High Definition Optics® (HDO®) initiative (addressing clarity, prism and definition) as well as Oakley’s hydrophobic lenses and impact protection were given daily to museum visitors.
Oakley hosted an exciting media event at the O Museum the Friday night before Ironman, during which a select group of media were invited to take a sneak peek of the newest sport-specific eyewear due to come out in March 2007, the Oakley Radar. This performance innovation combines everything learned from decades of research with the world’s best athletes and includes entirely new features like Anti Smudge lens technology that prevents oils from skin and other contaminates from corrupting vision. As well,
Oakley Radar can be customized in terms of fit, with interchangeable components that optimize comfort and ensure the frame stays secure during competition. To maximize performance in any sport environment, Oakley Radar allows the wearer to select his/her own lens shape and even swap out an interchangeable lens to keep up with changing light.
Oakley is very excited to introduce its new sport-specific performance piece as it epitomizes the company’s dedication to its athletes. Oakley has spent three decades redefining products for athletes who redefine what is possible. The most demanding sport professionals in the world have driven Oakley to create innovation after innovation, to help athletes perfect their performance by allowing Oakley to perfect their vision.
Present at the media event were legends Mark Allen, Peter Reid and Greg Welch, as well as the Amazing Race’s Sarah Reinertsen. Each athlete testified to their loyalty of Oakley and their reason for choosing to use Oakley products over the years.
Also held at the O Museum the day following the race, was an autograph signing session featuring athletes including Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden, Natascha Badmann, Luke Bell, Reynard Tissink and Thomas Hellriegel. The athletes signed keepsake posters picturing top Oakley triathletes over the years. A good time was had by all at the event as a DJ spun upbeat music, signifying the end of the hard work for the athletes and the long awaited opportunity for them to cut loose and enjoy their successes the day prior. Near the end of the signing event, Greg Welch and MultiSports.com gave out 30 Oakley Thumps (eyewear featuring an MP3 player built in) to event attendees who had entered a raffle available to those who came through the O Museum during the week of the event. The Thump Pro, available via the paid raffle contest was also given out at this time.
The O Museum was set up in a retail space leased by local retailer Hawaiian Pedals, a Kona retailer who carries a wide selection of Oakley’s eyewear, apparel, footwear and watches. Oakley sales staff were on hand at Hawaiian Pedals during the week of Ironman, a tradition that has been carried out for nearly twenty years by Oakley to help the shop during this busy time, and to provide a much appreciated warranty service to participating Ironman athletes before the race.
What better way to wrap up the recap of Oakley’s involvement at Ironman 2006 than to share the story of a few Oakley employees who ran the final five mile stretch of the Ironman running course with the final participant to make it before the time cutoff. The final athlete was none other than Sister Madonna Buder who made the midnight cutoff by less than a minute. She is the oldest woman to ever finish an Ironman – every time she finishes she resets that record. It has become somewhat of a tradition for attending Oakley staff to be present at the run course around 10:30 PM to support those athletes who are on the cusp of making the midnight cutoff to become official Kona Ironman finishers. The Oakley crew, along with several Ironman staff members, became Buder’s support system after spotting her struggling along the final portion of the running course, encouraging her and supporting her as she completed the race.
Whether it be the numerous athletes wearing Oakley eyewear or Oakley’s strong presence at Ironman via numerous different events, one thing is clear: Oakley’s dedication to athletes and to sport. As they have for many years throughout Oakley’s history, athletes embrace Oakley for what it really is: a company offering essential equipment for sport competition.