The World Triathlon Corporation, producers and licensors of the Ironman and 70.3 events, is launching its own print publication.
Lava Magazine will publish three issues during 2010, and, will be bi-monthly through the end of the year. Eight issues are anticipated for the 2011 year.
According to its publisher a July/August issue will be the first issue and will feature, among other topics, a preview of the Eurobike trade show. The second, a Sept/Oct issue, is strategic in its proximity to the Interbike trade show. Then, a Nov/Dec issue will cover the Ford Ironman World Triathlon Championship.
Lava Magazine will be published by the former publisher of Triathlete Magazine, John Duke (pictured), who until December of 2009 published all the print titles owned by Competitor Group, including Inside Triathlon and Velo News.
Duke will be working with a lot of familiar faces. Susan Grant was on the masthead at Inside Triathlon, and Erika Krystek was its graphic designer. Heather Gordon acted as Triathlete Mag's associate publisher. Jay Prasuhn was Triathlete Magazine's senior editor, before leaving Competitor to head up a new multisport magazine at H3Publications (Road Magazine) that failed to produce an issue.
Sean Watkins was the chief ad salesman for Duke throughout most of his reign at Triathlete Magazine, and he reunites with Duke as a contracted ad salesman (Wattie Ink).
All these persons will again converge to form the backbone of an editorial and production team.
TJ Murphy, Editorial Director of both Inside Tri and Triathlete Mags, said, "Practically all the people over there are good friends of mine. I wish them all well. I miss them." But he added, "I'm actually more excited about being part of [Triathlete Magazine] than ever. [Publisher] Andy Hersam is a guy I'm learning so much from. Everything he's said, he's been true to his word. We're rebuilding teams. Nine months from now everyone's going to look at Triathlete and Inside Triathlon and see they're better magazines."
Why isn't Ironman's new publication called "Ironman Magazine?" Because there already is one. It's a bodybuilding publication, in print since 1936. Lava Magazine's title is a tacit acknowledgement that the Ironman World Championships will not leave the Big Island for the foreseeable future.
How will Lava Magazine build a paid circulation? Issues will be sent directly to the mailboxes of U.S. athletes entered in Ironman's races. Registrations will also be sold on Ironman.com's website.
Active.com has been a source of subscription sales for Triathlete Magazine. Will it continue to feature subscription sales to Triathlete during the process of registration to triathlons? Or will it switch to Lava Magazine? Or sell subscriptions for both?
"We're in discussions right now with Active.com," said Ironman's Director of Communications Blair LaHaye. "But nothing has been decided."
Competitor Group, mostly because of Rock and Roll Marathons, is Active's largest registration customer in the footracing category. But Ironman is the largest in the triathlon category.
What posture will Ironman's product and event licensees take toward a magazine that must promote both licensed and non-licensed products and events?
"They are receptive to it," said LaHaye, "and they have been made aware. Last week was the annual [Ironman partners] meeting, they're in the loop on the mission of the magazine.
What is that editorial mission? Lava Magazine will not only be focused on Ironman and 70.3 racing, but events that "target the serious and committed triathlete," said LaHaye.
While plenty of non-Ironman racers will find content to interest them, will advertisers be confident that the magazine will not editorially favor Ironman licensors? Time, and the editorial Duke's group will write, will tell.
Will Ironman issue media and photographer credentials to print publications that are in its competitive set? And do so in the same volume, and with the same access?
"Those journalists interested in covering Kona will be credentialed," promised LaHaye, assuming each journalist and publication meets appropriate scope and standards. But she added that, "Right now, WTC is in the process of reviewing new plans relevant for event photography in Kona."
Notwithstanding Lava Magazine's launch, Competitor Group will continue to publish race programs for the Ford Ironman World Championship and the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3. This will be the 20th anniversary of Triathlete Magazine's race program production for the Kona race.