All you need to know about Ironman VR, the triathlon brand’s virtual racing series including how to register for and complete Ironman Virtual Racing events.
Ironman Virtual Racing is a series of online events run via Ironman VC, Ironman’s online training and racing platform, with specific distances to cover over different disciplines for each race. Events begin weekly at 6pm GMT on Fridays with athletes having until 11:59pm GMT on Sunday to complete the race.
Ironman VR Challenger Division & Classic Division
With Ironman VR8, Ironman brought in two different divisions to the racing – Challenger Division and Classic Division.
Ironman VR Challenger Division athletes must complete their race disciplines either outdoors or using Rouvy, Ironman’s official VR partner. This allows Ironman to more easily monitor activities to improve the validity of age-group results.
The Ironman VR Classic Division is orientated towards the personal achievement of completing the distance, with athletes permitted to use their indoor or outdoor equipment of choice. For the Classic Division, finisher times are shared but aren’t monitored given the diversity of equipment.
Both Ironman VR Challenger and Classic division athletes must complete the same distances as one another.
How To Register For An Ironman VR Race
You can sign up for Ironman Virtual Racing from the Events tab on the Ironman VC website. Entries were initially handled by Active.com, Ironman’s usual partner for processing race entries, however, the process is now simplified so that you stay on the Ironman VC website.
All you have to do is navigate to this week’s Ironman VR race via the Events tab, scroll to either the Challenger Division or Classic Division and click the ‘Register Now’ button.
Once entered, your status on the page for your selected virtual race will change to ‘registered’ before the race starts and then a progress bar once the race has begun.
Only activities completed after the race has started – and before the event’s end time – will count towards the race!
How Much Does It Cost To Enter An Ironman VR Race?
Ironman VR events are currently free to enter for all athletes with no registration or processing fees.
Ironman VR Finisher Bundles
Rather than charging competitors and sending out medals to finishers, Ironman has instead created Ironman VR Finisher Bundles.
These limited-edition packages are available for purchase by any Ironman VR event finisher and include a bespoke race medal along with a selection of other goodies including Buff-style headscarf, finisher’s caps and race tees. Ironman has also been giving away free Ironman VR facemasks as part of the bundles.
How Do You Complete An Ironman VR Race?
To cross the virtual finish line of an Ironman Virtual Race, you must complete all the sessions designated for the event before time runs out at 11:59pm GMT on Sunday of race weekend.
Ironman VR Race Order
You can complete the sessions specified for an Ironman VR event in any order you want.
You don’t have to complete the race sessions back-to-back either, you can spread them out within the race’s time period. There’s no benefit for being the first to complete the race.
Devices And Data
You can complete the sessions indoors or outdoors. If you’re racing indoors, your treadmill or indoor bike trainer sessions must be recorded with a speed and distance sensor – or recorded by an online training app such as Rouvy.
If you’re racing outdoors, you’ll need a GPS-equipped watch or bike computer.
Ironman Virtual Club doesn’t accept manual activities or GPX files imported into tracking apps – though we have successfully synced .FIT files manually uploaded to Garmin Connect.
Once the race has started, the first session you complete will count towards the race, so bear this in mind if you’re logging your warm-ups or other activities not connected to the race during the VR event’s time period.
Distances And Timing
If you want to log your best possible time for an Ironman VR race, you’ll need to make sure that you pay close attention to your device towards the end of each race session.
Some athletes have reported that files more than 1km longer than the prescribed distance have failed to meet Ironman VR criteria, while extra distance also means extra minutes and seconds on your overall race time, so hit the stop button just after completing the distance required.
How Are Ironman VR Races Different To Ironman VC Challenges?
Races differ from challenges in that they are competitive, with times for each leg of the race putting you on a leader board for your age-group, just like in real racing. You also get exclusive digital badges upon completion.
Ironman has also suggested Ironman 70.3 World Championship slots could be up for grabs through virtual races. However, this could cause a huge headache for the brand in terms of ensuring fair results.
It remains to be seen how Ironman will fully police hacking of uploaded files or validate suspect results, but the introduction of the Ironman VR Challenger Division – where only Rouvy can be used for indoor activities – with Ironman VR8 seems to be a step in the right direction.
Another difference compared to challenges is that with Ironman’s intention to add race merchandise to Ironman VR events, entry fees may be charged in the future.
Ironman VR Distances
Ironman VR distances change each week, but have tended to stick to commonly accepted triathlon distances. Due to the launch of the Ironman VR series during the Coronavirus crisis, there have been no swimming segments to races. Ironman has also refrained from asking athletes to complete the full Ironman distance over a weekend.
Here’s the rundown of Ironman VR distances so far.
- Ironman VR1 – 5km run, 90km bike and 21km run (Ironman 70.3 distance) – 3 April 2020
- Ironman VR2 – 3km run, 40km bike, 10km run (Olympic/5150 distance) – 10 April 2020
- Ironman VR3 – 1.5km run, 20km bike, 5km run (Sprint distance) – 17 April 2020
- Ironman VR4 – 3km run, 40km bike, 10km run (Olympic/5150 distance) – 24 April 2020
- Ironman VR5 – 5km run, 90km bike and 21km run (Ironman 70.3 distance) – 1 May 2020
- Ironman VR6 – 3km run, 40km bike, 10km run (Olympic/5150 distance) – 8 May 2020
- Ironman VR7 – 1.5km run, 20km bike, 5km run (Sprint distance) – 15 May 2020
- Ironman VR8 – 3km run, 40km bike, 10km run (Olympic/5150 distance) – 22 May 2020