Get Your Race On: Virtual Options for Triathletes

If you're itching to race (we don't blame you), there are plenty of virtual options that will get the competitive juices going before in-person racing returns.

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It’s the beginning of a new year and, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us haven’t seen a race course in well over a year. We’re all hopeful that we’ll make it to the start line of an in-person race come spring, summer, and fall, but in the meantime, the rise in virtual triathlons and other endurance events means there are plenty of opportunities to get the competitive juices flowing and test fitness in the next few weeks and months. Check back as we update this story in the future with any additional virtual triathlon and duathlon options.

RELATED: Should You Sign Up For a 2021 Race?

Zwift Duathlon League

While most of us don’t qualify for Zwift’s Z Pro Tri Series (though the battles are fun to follow live), set for Feb. 3-24, there is an option for us everyday athletes. The Zwift Duathlon League kicks off on Feb. 17 and runs for six weeks. Each Wednesday you’ll ride as far as you can in 35 minutes and then run as far as you can in 15 minutes. There is a 10-minute break in between to allow for the transition from bike to run. Scoring is based on the total number of meters covered in each sport. You’ll receive one point for every five meters on the bike and one point for every meter on the run. You will need to ride (on a trainer) and run (on a treadmill) in Zwift.

RELATED: Indoor Training Guide

Ironman VR

First, sign up for the Ironman Virtual Club (it’s free) and then you’ll gain access to all of the information about upcoming virtual triathlons. This year’s races VR1 through VR3 have already taken place over the past few weeks, but there’s still plenty of time to get in on the winter/spring fun. Register for the event and then complete the outlined sessions over the given time period (usually Friday to Sunday). In the Classic division, you can do the distances using whatever equipment you’d like and you can complete the activities on separate days, but each of the legs must be done in one session. (So, for example, for a sprint you could do the 1.5K run on Friday, the 20K ride on Saturday, and the 5K run on Sunday.) The prize for this race is a digital “badge” that goes on your athlete dashboard and profile.

There is also a Challenger division, which has stricter rules and guidelines to follow and lets you rank against other competitors. You are required to complete your ride outdoors or on the ROUVY augmented cycling reality platform and run outdoors (not on a treadmill).

Because of the time of year and the fact that many triathletes don’t currently have access to a pool, Ironman is offering both swim-bike-run and run-bike-run options for both classic and challenger divisions. See the upcoming schedule below.

Date Virtual Triathlons Format
Jan 25 – Jan. 31 Ironman VR4 Sprint Distance
Feb. 1 – Feb. 7 Ironman VR5 5150 Olympic Distance
Feb. 8 – Feb. 14 Ironman VR6 Sprint Distance
Feb. 15 – Feb. 21 Ironman VR7 Half Distance
Feb. 22 – Feb. 28 Ironman VR8 Ride 40 km

Following the events listed above, the VR series will put on an All-Terrain Series in March. Ironman hasn’t released much information on what this means, but they’re promising it will take “athletes on a tour of some of the best events in the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 race catalog.”

Tour of Sufferlandria

Wahoo has revealed the stages for its long-running Tour of Sufferlandria, which is set for Feb. 14-20. Billed as “The Greatest Grand Tour of a Mythical Country in the World,” the Tour of Sufferlandria challenges riders to complete seven days of virtual stages from The SUF catalog of structured workouts. To compete, you’ll need a stationary bike, turbo trainer, or rollers, a subscription to The Wahoo SUF Training App (formerly called The Sufferfest), and a device that’s compatible with the app. The entry fee is a minimum $15 donation to the Davis Phinney Foundation (they fund programs to help those affected by Parkinson’s Disease). For every additional $10 you donate or fundraise, you earn one additional chance in the prize pool.

The Sufferfest is known for being a tough challenge. See the week-long schedule below:

Stage Date Workout
Stage 1 Feb. 14 Joyride + Cobbler
Stage 2 Feb. 15 Nine Hammers
Stage 3 Feb. 16 Fight Club
Stage 4 Feb. 17 Half Is Easy + G.O.A.T.
Stage 5 Feb. 18 Norway
Stage 6 Feb. 19 Who Dares + The Cure
Stage 7 Feb. 20 Defender + Attacker

Pick a Running Race

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, owned by The Ironman Group, is putting on a virtual series similar to the one Ironman is putting on. An entry into the Ironman Virtual Club also gives you entry to the Rock ’n’ Roll Running Virtual Club. So far the run series has progressed in distance from a 5K to kick off the year to an 8K for this weekend.

As mass participation races (especially running events, which tend to host hundreds or thousands of participants) still may be months away from being put on safely, several winter and spring races have been turned into virtual events. The Life Time Miami Marathon & Half Marathon can be completed where you are from Jan. 10 – 31. Some virtual events, like Run Disney’s Star Wars Virtual Marathon, have already sold out. You can still sign up for the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. As always, the main appeal of these Disney races is the collectible themed medals. Generally, keep an eye out on any races you’d expect to happen this time of year as many race directors will put on from-home options to make up for lost revenue.

DIY Triathlon

Build (and test) early-season fitness by putting together your own multisport adventure. The lack of in-person races presents an opportunity to let go of the structure of a traditional endurance race. Grab a couple of (socially distanced) friends and plot your own self-supported triathlon. If you’re in need of some inspiration, watch two former pro triathletes, Chris Foster and Ben Collins, take on a DIY triathlon adventure on Catalina Island.

They brought everything they’d need to swim, bike, and run in their own “event” on a small, rugged island about 25 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. They planned their own course and even brought specialized gear to bikepack their way out to their tri adventure base 10 miles away from the nearest town—where they would start, transition, finish, eat, and sleep over two days.

Save The Date: Hawaii From Home Virtual Triathlon

Regardless of how the 2021 triathlon season plays out, we’ll be bringing back our Hawaii From Home Virtual Triathlon. Over the week of Oct. 3, we’ll be swimming 2.4 miles, swimming 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles, and giving away epic prizes along the way. Put the date on your calendar and stay tuned for more details! 

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