A Guide to Virtual Racing

COVID-19 has presented its share of challenges, but thankfully it’s also presented us with unique racing opportunities. Sportstats and Ironman have both offered virtual duathlons for athletes from all over the world to participate. As our local heroes, we’ve put together this guide to help Somersault participants find and compete in some of these events. 

What's Available?

Sportstats Virtual Triathlon

Sportstats has been providing timing for Somersault for years and they’ve put together a virtual experience for participants that begins in May. We encourage all of our Somersault Local Heroes to participate and support this event. 

Ironman Virtual Club

Ironman is without question the biggest name in triathlon. They’re also running a global virtual series with races from Sprint to half-iron distance. 

What About Runners?

Ottawa Race Weekend has stepped up and offered to host a virtual run race. This is a great opportunity for runners to get their competitive vibes going while staying safe and away from crowds. Kudos to the Run Ottawa team for spearheading this!
Find out more here👉 https://www.runottawa.ca/

NYRR is also hosting a virtual run race through Strava and there are many virtual races held that you can pay for and receive a medal if you’re looking for bling!

Is There a Strategy To This?

Heck, yes! That’s half the fun! While virtual races might not be ideal for everyone, for many this is an opportunity to tackle a new challenge. We all know how a triathlon normally functions. We have a good sense for how to prepare. We know enough to put together a strategy. 

So how do we put together a virtual race? How is it different than normal race? 

Go At Your Own Pace

With most virtual formats you’re given a set period within which to complete the prescribed legs of the event. In most cases these are virtual duathlons which involve a short first run, a bike, and a longer second run. 

If you want to simulate a typical race, you can certainly do that by completing all three legs successively. But you can also plan out your race so that you maximize your performance in each event. 

The Weekend Race

Some races like the Ironman Virtual Club hold events over a single weekend. This mean you generally have 3 days to complete all three legs. Let’s pretend you have an Olympic distance duathlon coming up. 3K run, 40k bike, 10k run. What’s the best way to maximize your performance? Take a look!👇


Friday is the best day to tackle the long run or the long bike. Which comes first depends on your strengths and your fitness.. look back at your training. Have you been running more than cycling? Have you had harder days on the bike or on the run? Whichever sport you spend more time doing, are naturally inclined towards, or have done more efforts at, do first.


No matter which event you're best at, do the shorter run on Saturday. This places the two hardest efforts furthest from each other.


Do your second hard effort on Sunday. As you can tell by our icon choices, we think 10k, 3k, 40k is the ideal setup. Most people find the 10k run effort to be easier than an all out 40k time trial on the bike. Partly because 10k races are more common for triathletes and they're used to that effort.

The Month Long Race

The Sportstats Virtual Race runs a little differently. In this race you have an entire month to complete the distances. You could even complete several different distances from the same event. Unlike the Ironman races, you can repeat your efforts at any time. This provides you with some options and some competitive strategy. 

With the IM Virtual Club race, you can see updated leaderboards only for those who have finished. And you can only upload one effort per leg. With Sportstats you can see live updates to the legs and repeat your efforts. This gives you the opportunity to go back and retry an effort if you think you didnt do as well as you’d have liked. It also encourages you to push yourself. Let’s say you upload a 44:32 10k run. You’re neck and neck with the person ahead you. Overall they’re only 1min faster. Can you knock a minute off your 10k time? You’ve got a month. Put in some speed work, take a couple days rest and have another go at the 10k. 

What about a month long strategy? It’s a little harder but you can still plan it out. For this, let’s assume you’ve been training throughout winter and spring to prep for spring/summer racing. We’re middle of April now. 


Spend the last couple weeks of April doing some base training, and adding in 1-2 sessions of intensity in your training. But don't do too much intensity. Peak fitness comes quick and goes quick.

May - Week 1

First week of May knock out your second run. Whether its a sprint, olympic or half-iron. Take your first shot at the second run. And start picking up a little intensity on the bike and run.

May - Week 2

Take your first shot at the bike split. Put it at least a week apart from the run effort. At this point, start adding in some short 2-3min run intervals into your training.

May - Week 3

Reduce your volume, but increase the interval sessions on the bike and run. You should be feeling a bit of fatigue here, but your efforts are getting tougher.


Monday and Tuesday are very easy recovery effort. Wednesday is a moderate run or bike but keep it pretty chill with a few short bursts. On Thursday do your first run leg, the shorter run. Friday is a rest day. And Saturday or Sunday choose either the bike or the run to redo an effort. Most people will see the biggest improvement in the run.

Final Thoughts

There’s more than one right way to do these events. So use your best judgement. Have some with it. But remember to be strategic and thoughtful. Going out and retrying your run or bike effort every couple of days is just going to wear you down. Let us know how you did and what your strategy is by popping over to FB. We want to hear your thoughts! 


The Somersault Event Series is the pre-eminent event series in Eastern Canada consisting of triathlon, duathlon, and running events for all ages and abilities.



%d bloggers like this: