Tips and Tricks for IRONMAN's VR Championship Series

I recently finished the second of IRONMAN’s VR Championship Series events. I highly encourage everyone to join the VR races. They are free, but more importantly, they are a big part of what we are here for. We train, and we race. We enjoy the challenges of the work, the details of the preparation, and the satisfaction of the execution. The VR races helps exercise those muscles in a new way.

One thing that makes the Championship Series races a little more appealing and challenging, at least to me, is the structure. The Classic Division has the same open rules as the first nine VR races—you can do the events in any order, over the entire weekend, inside or outside. The Championship Series rules make it a little more like a real race.

With that in mind: pay attention to the rules! It is not as easy as you would think. Although IRONMAN publishes the rules with each race, there are a few that may need a little more of your attention.

Overall Tips and Tricks

Practice with your technology. Do not use new technology for the first time in an event. Before your race, get everything setup and do some runs and bikes with Rouvy to ensure that everything syncs to the VR platform. The first time I used Rouvy, it crashed. I am so glad it was not the race.

Finish in 12 hours. I almost failed this up in my 2nd race because I mixed up my math. I finished my 10K run with 3 minutes to spare: from 8:28 PM to 8:26 AM.

Do the events in order. This seems obvious, but it is different from the original races.

Wear a heart rate monitor for the whole event.Heart rate is required for the run. It is not explicitly stated for the Rouvy bike. Better be safe than sorry.

Key Run Rules

Run outside. Treadmill runs do not count.

Wear a GPS device. Run results must come from a GPS device with heart rate data. It must be uploaded to the VR platform through one of their approved workout tracking sites and publicly available.

Do not accidentally start. IRONMAN will take the first eligible run distance you do. So, if you run a light 5K to loosen up, it will take that as your first run.

Get the distances right. The rules state that the distances are based on kilometers, and they will not round up. For example, 1.8 miles is short of the 3K distance; you must run at least 1.86 miles.

Do not run more than necessary. IRONMAN will take the total time of the distance that meets the criteria. So, if you run 4 km for the 3 km event, it will apply the total 4 km time; it does not clip your time down to what it would have been for the required minimum distance.

Do not lose elevation. If you are not running on a track, plan your run with an uphill buffer at the end. You do not want to be finishing an out-and-back on a downhill and be a few hundredths short.

Key Bike Rules

Ride inside on Rouvy. Pretty self-explanatory.

Use an approved trainer. This got a lot of attention after the first race. Originally, there were only 17 approved trainer models. The Tacx Neo 2 was among the notable omissions. After the race, anyone on a Neo 2 was disqualified. So, too, were users of Saris’ Hammer. After a few Facebook threads and direct contacts from several Slowtwitchers, IRONMAN reviewed the trainer list with Rouvy and significantly expanded the list of eligible trainers. They retroactively reinstated the results of those disqualified and awarded points.

Race the official Rouvy course. IRONMAN releases and announces the course about an hour before the event start time. You cannot just meet the distance; you must ride on the official course for the event.

Make sure Rouvy is in Race mode. When you use Rouvy for the first time, it defaults to “Training,” so you will need to change this. This is as simple as clicking the “Race” button on the main screen.

Racing in the Championship Series exposed me to Rouvy, and it helped normalize the playing field as much as possible. People in cooler climates or flatter regions have a definite advantage over me. I love the virtual Rouvy world, and I will be giving Zwift a try next because of this. And for me, the results matter. All the qualifying races for 70.3 Worlds near me are cancelled, and I want to get a Taupo slot. But even if I do not get a slot, I had a lot of fun. This week is the 70.3 distance VR event, and I am looking forward to it.