IRONMAN responds to COVID-19 with new IRONMAN Virtual Club™
Pro races to be broadcast live on Facebook Watch
From Anything is Possible to AnyWHERE is Possible, with racing real-life racing seemingly off the radar around the globe for the foreseeable future, The IRONMAN Group has responded with the launch of IRONMAN VR.
Scheduled for launch on 1st April (and no, this is real, in case you were thinking….), this “will allow athletes to train, compete and stay connected with the close-knit athlete community around the world.”, per the full announcement (published below).
IRONMAN Virtual Club™, a web-based platform allowing athletes to train and compete from anywhere around the world at any time through the IRONMAN VR Series of weekly races and challenges
The exact process / platform(s) / logistics are not clear from the initial news, but what does stand out is the ability to qualify (in select events), for the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand, through this process. It’s (very) easy to find potential faults with that approach… but, in the global situation we find ourselves in at present, I’m personally content to hold fire on that criticising that, given we have far great issues to deal with right now. Like staying alive. Who knows if that Championship will even still take place anyway?
IRONMAN – like every other business – is having to adapt and deal with this situation. If this approach helps keep athletes engaged, activity and (physically and mentally) healthy, that’s a positive step.
As always, the devil will be in the detail, which should start to become clearer in a week’s time. In addition to the announcement, here is an update from IRONMAN CEO, Andrew Messick.
THE IRONMAN GROUP LAUNCHES IRONMAN VR
– A NEW GLOBAL RACING SERIES –
AND THE IRONMAN VR PRO CHALLENGE
IRONMAN Virtual Racing Series and IRONMAN Virtual Club
will allow athletes to train, compete and stay connected with the close-knit athlete community around the world
The IRONMAN Group, a Wanda Sports Group company (Nasdaq: WSG), today announced that it will add the IRONMAN® Virtual Racing™ (VR™) Series to its portfolio, including the IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge that will debut on April 4 through the IRONMAN Now Page on Facebook Watch. The IRONMAN VR Series will be offered through the soon to be launched IRONMAN Virtual Club™, a web-based platform allowing athletes to train and compete from anywhere around the world at any time through the IRONMAN VR Series of weekly races and challenges.
“At the IRONMAN Group, our mission is to provide exceptional, life-changing race experiences for athletes of all levels from their first step to the finish line,” says Andrew Messick, President & CEO for The IRONMAN Group. “We believe that under extraordinary circumstances such as these, athletes should be able to maintain the structure and continuity that training and competition provides. The IRONMAN Virtual Club is an innovative digital platform that enables our athletes to continue training with purpose, remain connected to our community and provides an opportunity to compete through the IRONMAN VR Series.”
Athletes will compete in the traditional age-group categories and for select virtual races, will have the opportunity to earn qualifying slots to the 2020 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand scheduled to take place on November 28 and 29, 2020. Virtual races will begin on Fridays at 6 p.m. GMT and close Sundays at midnight GMT with the first competitive race, IRONMAN VR1, debuting on April 3. The format and distances may vary each race weekend. The IRONMAN Virtual Club platform will utilize connected devices and be compatible with most wearable technology and app trackers. Upon completion of a race, athletes will receive a finisher package including the collectible IRONMAN VR medal and finisher tees for that race. The IRONMAN Virtual Club will additionally provide an activity-based loyalty point system designed to motivate athletes as they train and reward them through merchandise, discounts and special benefits.
During each weekend of competition, there will also be a Women’s and Men’s IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge. Two professional female athletes will compete on Saturday and two professional male athletes will compete on Sunday for prize money. Anyone around the world will be able to tune-in to the head-to-head battles through the IRONMAN Now Page on Facebook Watch. The coverage will also follow the competing age-group athletes through User-Generated Content shared on the interactive platform, allowing athletes to see how they match up against fellow competitors through live look-ins and leaderboard updates. Additionally, every Monday at 6 p.m. following the race weekend, the IRONMAN VR Rolldown Show will provide the best action from the weekend and an interactive live awarding of the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifying slots. During the live coverage, the IRONMAN Foundation will also run Facebook fundraisers to provide support for our traditional host communities.
Full details and specifics regarding the IRONMAN VR Series and IRONMAN Virtual Club will be available at launch on April 1, 2020. For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com.