USA Triathlon (USAT) has unveiled plans for what is being billed as ‘the world’s first entirely online swim, bike and run event’, the Time to Tri Virtual Triathlon, which will run from Friday, November 1, through Sunday, December 1.
The online challenge, housed at virtual-tri.com from November 1, gives aspiring triathletes the chance to experience the sport for the first time in an approachable format. At the same time, it offers experienced multisport athletes a virtual racing and training opportunity.
Registration is free, and participants who add-on a US$35 donation to the USA Triathlon Foundation will receive a Virtual Triathlon T-shirt and finisher’s medal.
All finishers, regardless of whether they select the USA Triathlon Foundation upgrade, will receive a US$20 gift card to roka.com upon completion of the challenge.
Registration is currently open at virtual-tri.com. Athletes can sign up prior to the start of the challenge or at any point during the four-week period.
The event is a component of Time to Tri, an industry-wide initiative within the triathlon industry to grow the sport by proactively recruiting and supporting athletes as they train for and complete their first race. The three-year initiative, a strategic joint effort between USA Triathlon and IRONMAN, was unveiled in early 2018.
“In order to grow our triathlon community, we need to meet prospective triathletes at the very start of their journey and make their introduction to the sport as seamless as possible,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The virtual triathlon does exactly that – enabling participants to swim, bike and run on their own time and in whatever format works best for them. If we can create a positive first experience, we know we will inspire many athletes to sign up for a local race as the next step.”
During the four-week-long event, participants will be challenged to complete the swim, bike and run distances for a sprint- or Olympic-distance triathlon. Athletes can complete all three disciplines on the same day, or complete one discipline at a time over the course of several days or weeks.
Swim, bike and run workouts can be synced to the platform automatically via most GPS-enabled workout devices, smartphone apps and smartwatches – including Garmin, Apple Watch, FitBit, Misfit, Polar, Strava, Suunto, Google Fit, RunKeeper, Apple Health and MapMyFitness. Manual uploads are also permitted.
First-time triathletes are encouraged to complete the sprint-distance triathlon, which is focused on participation rather than competition and consists of a 500m swim, 12.5 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. The Olympic-distance event consists of a 1,500m swim, 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile run, and will feature live leaderboards and rankings of participants nationwide throughout the month.
The Olympic-distance event will also include a club competition, with scoring based on total distance completed. Athletes will be able to sign up under their club’s name upon registration.
Athletes can upload workouts to the platform, powered by FitRankings, at any time over the four weeks. Participants will be listed as finishers as long as they complete their selected race distance by the end of the challenge on December 1. Workouts may be completed outdoors or indoors: pool swims, spin bikes and stationary bikes, bike trainers and treadmills are all acceptable.
“FitRankings strives to be a leader in virtual racing technology, and we are excited to partner with USA Triathlon to create new virtual racing opportunities for USA Triathlon members and the larger triathlon community,” said Patrick Hitchins, CEO and Founder of FitRankings.
“We know the triathlon community is on the cutting edge of technology using many different wearables and apps to train and race, so this partnership is a natural fit.”