K-Swiss Announces First Ever $1 Million Challenge to Triathletes

Largest Bonus in Ironman History Awarded to K-Swiss Athletes Andreas and Michael Raelert for Tandem Finish at 2011 Ironman World Championship

Mar 23, 2011, 08:00 ET from K-Swiss

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Inspired by the vision of professional triathlete Michael Raelert, California Sports Company K-Swiss will take its triathlon commitment to a new level surrounding the Ironman World Championship on October 8, 2011. Raelert has vowed to successfully cross the finish line in tandem with his brother Andreas Raelert in an effort to take first and second place in the grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run in Kona, Hawaii. In response, the company's CEO has pledged to award $1 million to the duo if they successfully meet the challenge.

The bonus would mark the largest sum ever awarded in the competition's 33-year history, putting the payout in the range of such prestigious events as both Wimbledon and the Masters.

The German-born Raelert brothers, just four years apart in age, currently stand as two of the world's leading triathletes.  Both are reigning champions: Michael is the back-to-back 2009 and 2010 Ironman 70.3 World Champion and Andreas is the 2010 Ironman European Champion.  However, Michael has never raced in Kona, or any race Andreas has entered out of admiration for his older brother. Inspired by this kinship and dedication that defines the sport of triathlon, K-Swiss is pledging to help push the envelope in the sport by launching this once-in-a-lifetime challenge to reward the athleticism and drive that is relatively unrecognized in the sports world.

"Last year at Kona, I asked Michael why he wasn't competing. I was moved by his response - that ever since he was a child, his brother Andreas has been his hero, and he couldn't race against him," said Steven Nichols, CEO of K-Swiss. "Michael said that the only way he would compete against Andreas was if they finished in unison. This really shows the world what the triathlon community is all about – we hope to meet them at the finish line in Kona with a check in hand to award that dedication."

Through a grassroots effort, the company aims to raise awareness for the sport of triathlon and its passionate community of athletes. The Ironman series is an unparalleled endurance event in which athletes must complete a 140.6-mile grueling course: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. Throughout Ironman's summer season, the brothers will race in competitions forging their way to the World Championships in Kona.

"We feel that the most grueling one-day sporting event in the world deserves more attention than it has," said Erik Vervloet, K-Swiss vice president of sports marketing. "Kona is nearly impossible to win on your own, but two brothers accomplishing this together would be a game-changing moment for the sport of triathlon."

K-Swiss will support the challenge and encourage people to follow the Raelerts on their journey to the finish through a season-long social media campaign and via the official K-Swiss triathlon Tumblr: www.kswiss.com/triathlon.

About K-Swiss

Founded more than forty years ago in Van Nuys, California, K-Swiss (Nasdaq: KSWS) introduced the first all-leather tennis shoe, the K-Swiss "Classic" in 1966.  Since its inception, K-Swiss has rooted itself in California Sport with an aim to be the most inspiring and innovative sports brand in the market.  Today the company offers performance and lifestyle footwear and apparel for several categories under its California Sports umbrella including Tennis Heritage, California Fit (Running, Triathlon and Fitness) and California Youth.  K-Swiss also designs, develops and markets footwear under the Palladium brand, and owns the FORM Athletics brand.  For more information about K-Swiss, visit www.kswiss.com.