Who We Are - An Overview
IRONBULL Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit community-based sports organization with the purpose of hosting and supporting recreational and extreme races such as adventure races, off-road triathlons, ultra-marathons, extreme bike races, paddling races and emerging sports in Marathon County. The initial ideas of creating a series of off-road races was developed by the Wausau & Marathon County Parks & Recreation Foundation in June of 2017. Bill Bertram, VP of the Park Foundation, explains, “The Foundation identified a void for extreme outdoor recreational sport enthusiasts in Central Wisconsin which presented an opportunity to leverage the geographic features that Mother Nature has blessed Marathon County with.”
IRONBULL was incorporated in December of 2018 as a standalone organization with a strong brand name and the goal of hosting year around off-road racing in Central Wisconsin.
Tim Buchholz, IRONBULL co-founder along with his wife Anna, are race directors of one of the premier adventure races in the nation, the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge. They saw the potential immediately for an overreaching brand that could develop and host outdoor races year-round in Marathon County. After receiving their doctorates in Florida, the couple decided to move to Wausau as it was the perfect place to both practice their professions and enjoy a multitude of year-round extreme sports. “IRONBULL has the potential to change the face of Wausau for decades to come,” said Buchholz. Tim serves as IRONBULL president and Anna is active on the board.
Andrea Larson P.E., Executive Director IRONBULL, left her engineering career after a decade in research and development to give back to her hometown. “IRONBULL will bring far more to Central Wisconsin than just the races.” said Larson. “The organization will fuel the economy, change the community, and promote healthy living.”
Wausau is blessed with forward-looking foundations which saw the potential in a race organization that focused not just on races, but as a means to attract millennials to the Wausau area. Local businesses recognized the upside for talent retention along with economic development. The Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce supports IRONBULL because the organization’s goals are so closely related to the Chamber’s goals of placemaking, economic development and talent retention.
Dave Eckmann, President and CEO of the Chamber, immediately saw the potential IRONBULL could bring to the community and invited IRONBULL to sit in their offices. Dave commented, “IRONBULL dovetailed nicely with the ‘Greater Wausau Region Economic Development Strategic Plan’ that was commissioned by the Chamber as a blueprint for economic development and growth.” One of the highlights of this report was the recommendation to rebrand Central Wisconsin as the Xtreme Sports Capital of the USA, leveraging the unique geographic gifts from Mother Nature.
IRONBULL race director Ellen Humberston moved here five years ago expecting to leave after her one year AmeriCorps term was completed, but fell in love with Central Wisconsin’s outdoor amenities.
“I can’t wait to see people from around the states, and maybe the world, come to our community and realize how much it has to offer in terms of extreme sports!” beams Humberston. “IRONBULL events will provide an amazing way for people to challenge their preconceptions about what they are capable of, and to do so in locally-minded and conscious way.”
IRONBULL’s sports partners include Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge, The Kayak Corporation, Central Wisconsin Off-Road Cycling Coalition (CWOCC), Wausau & Marathon County Parks & Recreation Foundation, Woodson YMCA, Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation & Forestry, and the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and UWSP at Wausau.
The Woodson YMCA, under the direction of Executive Director and CEO Bryan Bailey, was IRONBULL’s first race partner. As the idea was presented to Bryan and his team in August of 2017, he pushed back from his desk, making the comment, that he never thought of Wausau as an ‘it destination.’ In 2020, the oldest triathlon race in the state will become an IRONBULL event, keeping aspects of the YMCA race, but adding an extreme portion going forward that will help make Wausau an “it destination."
IRONBULL’s community partners include the City of Wausau, the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce, Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sports Authority, Wausau Area Events, Wausau River District Inc. and Travel Wisconsin.
Foundation support for the organization includes the Dwight and Linda Davis Foundation, Dudley Foundation, Judd S. Alexander Foundation, B.A. & Ester Greenheck Foundation, Paul & Ruth Schultz Foundation, and the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.
Mission & Goals of the IRONBULL
Our mission is to promote healthy lifestyles that incorporate demanding sports and recreational events that challenge oneself both physically and mentally to be the best that we can be.
Our goals include:
1. Be at the leading edge of promoting and supporting emerging extreme sports.
2. Invest in sporting venues and facilities that promote the extreme element of a sport.
3. Support clubs and organizations that promote activities associated with extreme sports, whether the activities are based in or outdoor.
4. Coordinate with other organizations to create a calendar of sporting events in Central Wisconsin that leverage existing and future recreational assets in the area.
5. Act as a lifestyle magnet for millennials to live and work in Central Wisconsin.
6. Rebrand Wausau as the Xtreme Sports Capital of the USA.
Races & Events
We believe the key to success is to host races that are on par with the IRONMAN, Spartan and the Birkie by leveraging the physical assets that we have in Marathon County and Central Wisconsin such as Sylvan Hill downhill mountain bike course, Rib Mountain, the Wausau Whitewater Park and Nine Mile Forest.
In addition to the races we plan to host ‘Xtreme Weekends’ that will fill the tents of sponsors, attract visitors to our area, fill hotels and restaurants. By offering unique venues, such as an Xtreme Playground on the 400 Block, Xtreme Block party on Third Street, Xtreme Art & Movie Festival at the Performing Arts Foundation and the possibility of a circus in conjunction with the Marathon County Historical Society, we will bring an experience to the entire community.
Plans are for an ‘IRONBULL Ring Series’ where athletes would come back to Wausau to participate in different races throughout the year, earning the right to claim the title, ‘The Toughest of the Tough’ and the trophy, ‘The IRON Ring.’
IRONBULL™ is a non-profit 501(c)(3) extreme off-road race organization that develops, hosts and sponsors extreme racing venues: ultra-marathons, off-road triathlons, gravel and downhill mountain bike races, adventure races and paddling events.
Andrea Larson – Executive Director
200 Washington Street, Suite 200
PO Box 957
Wausau, WI 54402-0957