Virtual racing at the IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge has evolved into a virtual relay team chase format, the first between three professional women and men, ending with a narrow chase as the women clinched victory.
Given a 7-minute headstart, professional women athletes – Lauren Brandon (USA), Nikki Bartlett (GBR) and Heather Jackson (USA) claimed victory for the women’s team over the professional men led by Andrew Keily (USA), Sam Long (USA) and Ben Kanute (USA) in the 22nd edition of the HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN® VR™ Pro Challenge.
Two athletes pre-recorded a 1km swim while two other members of the team pre-recorded a 6km run at locations of their choice with their video being shared on the live race broadcast. During the broadcast, the remaining female and male professional teammates took on the 25km ride on a portion of the IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells-La Quinta course in southern California while their teammates added commentary.
Both Lauren Brandon, a former NCAA All-American swimmer and IRONMAN champion and Andrew Keily, a collegiate swimmer finished their 1km swim at the exact same time of 11:53. With the lead still in hand, Nikki Bartlett, 2019 IRONMAN Lanzarote champion and HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR7 winner, gave an impressive performance finishing the 25km bike ride in a time of 32:54.
Chasing down hard, Sam Long – IRONMAN Champion and two-time HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge winner, followed Bartlett onto the course finishing the 25km ride in 30:08.
In the final 6km run as the women maintained their lead, Heather Jackson – fifth-place finisher at the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship, capped off the relay clocking an impressive 21:59.
Setting the tarmac on fire, Ben Kanute – U.S. Olympian and fifth place finisher at the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship, nearly caught Jackson in the final stretch finishing the run narrowly behind with a time of 18:48.
Additionally, for the first time, non-professional athletes will have the ability to virtually complete 140.6-miles in either seven-day, three-day or competitive 17-hour formats. The IRONMAN VR Kona Series kicked off September 4 and runs through October 11. Additional details on The 2020 IRONMAN VR World Championship Celebration and IRONMAN Kona Series can be found on the IRONMAN VC platform at www.ironmanvirtualclub.com.
Professional women’s relay results:
|TOTAL TEAM TIME:||01:06:46|
Professional men’s relay results:
|TOTAL TEAM TIME:||01:00:49|
The full broadcast of the HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR22 Pro Challenge can be viewed, HERE.