Ironman, the organizer of endurance races, has named Scott DeRue as its new chief executive.

DeRue joins from gym chain Equinox where he served as president and succeeds Andrew Messick, who announced last July he would be stepping down after 12 years in the role.

Messick will remain a stakeholder in the company and a member of the board of directors, alongside DeRue.

During Messick’s tenure, Ironman grew into the world’s largest organizer of mass participation events and expanded its remit into road running, trail running, road cycling, mountain biking, and digital training platforms.

The company now organizes events in more than 50 countries, involving more than one million athletes annually.

DeRue, meanwhile, brings a wealth of experience, having overseen 107 fitness clubs, a fitness platform, personal training and coaching practice, and digital commerce and media properties while leading Equinox. He is also a keen endurance runner, having completed the 250km Gobi March ultramarathon.

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Before that, he served as the dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan for five years and started his career with Monitor Group, which is now part of Deloitte, as an analyst for the company’s private equity business.

Originally owned by Providence Equity Partners when Messick came on board, Ironman was acquired by the Chinese Dalian Wanda conglomerate in 2015. It was then sold to US media group Advance Publications in July 2020, with private equity firm Orkila Capital co-investing in the company.

The latter deal was worth $730 million and since then, the company has expanded its race calendar significantly, as well as its sponsorship portfolio.

Advance’s portfolio includes magazine group Conde Nast, as well as stakes in Charter Communications, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Reddit. Orkila Capital, meanwhile, has invested in MMA promotion Bellator and Belgium soccer’s Club Brugge.

Janine Shelffo, group president and chief growth and strategy officer at Advance, said: “We are thrilled to bring someone of Scott’s talent and experience to The Ironman Group. Scott is a dynamic leader with a unique track record of driving transformation and growth in different roles and environments.”