With many races cancelled this summer around the world, race companies and software companies are making the most of solo training by offering virtual triathlons.Here's a quick, but not exhaustive, summary of where and how to find a virtual race that meets your needs.
Many favorite race companies are offering virtual triathlons in which participants complete designated distances on their own, and upload or share their results informally on a website or social media. These races have paid registration but include a T-shirt and race medal.Rev 3, for example, gives participants a week to complete the distances, and the triathletes whose results posts gets the most likes, wins. All entrants receive the race swag they paid for at registration. The events allow for a third activity of your choice, such as swimming where possible, or rowing, or another activity of your choice.Ironman VR is a new virtual race format from Ironman's Virtual Club. By creating an Ironman account, you upload your activities (verifiable data) and receive points that can be redeemed for merchandise.USA Triathlon hosted an event that is now completed, with uploaded results and raffle prizes awarded by random drawing.
For competitive events in which the competition can be more accurately evaluated, you'll want to turn to the apps and software companies, such as Zwift and Strava.Although these events are almost exclusively in a duathlon format (using smart trainers and footpods) they do provide a competitive experience closer to a real life triathlon.Zwift, a virtual reality-style training app where a cyclist's avatar rides through a course in sync with their cycling effort in real life, frequently hosts virtual events. For a time, Zwift was partnering with Ironman, although Ironman is using another platform now to time its entrants in virtual races. Zwift is affordable and works with smart trainers but can also be modified to work with any trainer. Zwift also syncs with footpods for running through its virtual courses.If you are using another app or cycling software, check to see if it is offering virtual racing.A note of caution: although these apps generally use power to calculate distances and speed, riders are responsible for calibrating their devices and entering their correct body weight and wheel size.We haven't seen many of the smaller, independent and local race companies offering virtual racing options at this time, and many are offering for participants to transfer their race fees to next year. However we will update this article if additional companies begin offering virtual races.One advantage to virtual racing is that it's much more flexible and affordable. Races don't close out months ahead of time. Fees are affordable. And if you want to race at 11 a.m. instead of 7 a.m., in many cases you can.