As previewed earlier this month, IRONMAN will roll out a new division for the VR Series of races with stricter rules and slots to the 70.3 World Championships. The VR Championship Series will consist of four races over four weeks, with the top 3 performances scoring for the cumulative leaderboard. There will be 3 5150 distance events, with one 70.3; the 70.3 performance will be given more weight in the cumulative standings.
There will now essentially be two separate VR divisions: the open division, whereby you may still complete the bikes and runs using the method that you prefer, and the championship division where your bikes must be completed on Rouvy and runs must be completed outdoors. Specific Rouvy bike-courses will be required for each VR event.
IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick acknowledged that part of the reason for requiring Rouvy and outdoor runs was in response to some of the unusual leaderboard results that have come up out of the first few VR events. However, according to IRONMAN's research, the vast majority of those results were innocent mistakes regarding non-smart equipment as opposed to flagrant cheating.
Championship division participants will also be required to have either competed in an IRONMAN-branded real life event, or have competed in one of the VR races. This is one reason why the 4 week long series will only allow for 3 scoring results; the first week is allowed to be non-scoring to provide history.
The theory is that, between real life and virtual racing performance history, is that IRONMAN will be able to create an e-racing bio passport out of this data, and allow them to flag and filter unusual performances before entering final results. This is, in part, why final leaderboards for the VR Championship races will be posted on Tuesday following the event weekend. This delay also allows IRONMAN officials to contact participants with unusual results to discover the reasoning behind those results.
"We have no intention to disqualify," Messick stated. But, he added, that users who intentionally violate the competitive rules of the series (which will be finalized later this week) may face real consequences, ranging from disqualification from the VR event all the way to real-life bans from participating in IRONMAN races.
"This is about honesty and integrity," said Messick.
It is unknown how many 70.3 World Championship slots will be awarded in this first round of the VR Championship Series. However, for context, the 70.3 World Championships in Taupo was anticipated to host 6,500 athletes across the two-day event.