IRONMAN VR Team Challenge Final Competition Heads to Asia Pacific With Teams Represented from Japan, Philippines, and Australia

May 5, 2021

- The final 3-week competition cycle ends in the Asia Pacific with teams representing Japan, Philippines and Australia racing in Sprint, Olympic and Half-Distance virtual duathlons kicking off on Thursday, May 6. - Preview show slated for Thursday, May 6 on IRONMAN Now Facebook Watch page at 7:00 a.m. GMT+8 / 9:00 a.m. AEST (Wednesday, May 5, 7:00 p.m. ET) - Featured Captains include IRONMAN U Coach and IRONMAN Asia Japan Community Manager Sam Sakai, Ines Santiago, an entrepreneur and a mother of two who is also multiple podium finisher at IRONMAN 70.3 races in Asia, and Melissa Urie, a mental health nurse from Melbourne, Australia, who is an accomplished competitor in Ultra Triathlon, IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events

IRONMAN VR Team Challenge

  • Asia Pacific IRONMAN VR Team Challenge takes the final competition cycle that will be happening on Thursday, May 6 at 9:00 a.m. AEST (7.00 p.m. ET) with three teams represented by Japan, Philippines, and Australia facing-off in a Sprint, Olympic and Half-Distance virtual duathlon over the next 3 weeks.
  • IRONMAN VR Team Challenge can be viewed on the IRONMAN Now on Facebook Watch page by visiting www.facebook.com/IRONMANnow.
  • Three team captains and their respective teammates will continue to compete in their own three-week-long competition cycles covering Sprint, Olympic and Half-Distance virtual duathlons.
  • Each teammate is tasked with competing in either the run or bike segment to help build a total score for the team captains.
  • The region’s team captain with the most cumulative points at the end of the three-week-long competition will receive a $5,000 donation to the charity of their choice from the IRONMAN Foundation Your Journey, Your Cause fundraising campaign.

Team Asia-Pacific Team Captains

Asia Team Captains include Sam Sakai, an IRONMAN U Coach and Japan Community Manager of IRONMAN Asia. Sam is a strong advocate for endurance triathlon in Japan and finisher of multiple races across Asia, including the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Ines Santiago from the Philippines is a mother of 2 and owns a garment manufacturing and retail company that specializes in hand-smocking and hand embroidery. She is a multiple podium finisher at IRONMAN 70.3 races in Asia. Representing Australia, Melissa Urie, a mental health nurse from Melbourne, Australia, who is an accomplished competitor in Ultra Triathlon, IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events. She is also a mental health nurse and is an avid triathlete who has competed in several multisport events in Australia. These captains are tasked with forming a duo or trio of athletes to join them each week for the competition scoring. This week’s athletes include:

Team Sam Sakai –

  • Genjiro-Gen Wakayama is a 4-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher and a 2-time IRONMAN 70.3 Japan podium finisher.
  • Kazuki-Kazu Kubono the fastest Japanese athlete in the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship.
  • Emi Sakai, also known as Sam’s wife, is a 7-time finisher at IRONMAN World Championship as a professional triathlete. She is now retired and continues to train together with Sam.

Team Ines Santiago –

  • Ronald Molit, the TriClub president of the largest TriClub in the Philippines – FIT PH is a swim coach and the top of his Age-Group in the country. The 38-year-old has multiple finishes in the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 races across Asia.
  • Chloe Jane Ong, an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete in the Philippines, rode her first bike in 2013 and completed her first triathlon in that very same year. From then, the 36-year-old has finished several IRONMAN 70.3 races and recently added IRONMAN to her portfolio of achievements.

Team Melissa Urie –

  • Ruth Bloom, a multi time IRONMAN finisher and an ambassador athlete for IRONMUMs, a community supporting mother who participate in IRONMAN events, will take on both run and bike this week.

Weekly Schedule

Wednesday, May 5

  • 7:00 a.m. GMT+8 / 9:00 a.m. AEST (7:00 p.m. ET) – IRONMAN VR Team Challenge Asia Pacific Preview show and Introduction of Team Captains

Thursday, May 6

  • 7:00 a.m. GMT+8 / 9:00 a.m. AEST (7:00 p.m. ET) – Asia Pacific Week 1: Olympic Distance triathlon

Thursday, May 13

  • 7:00 a.m. GMT+8 / 9:00 a.m. AEST (7:00 p.m. ET) – Asia Pacific Week 2: Sprint Distance triathlon

Thursday, May 20

  • 7:00 a.m. GMT+8 / 9:00 a.m. AEST (7:00 p.m. ET) – Asia Pacific Week 3: Half distance triathlon

Rules and Processes

  • Each region competes in its own three-week-long competition and consists of a Sprint, Olympic and Half-Distance virtual duathlon simulation. The teams from North America and EMEA have already competed, Asia Pacific will begin their portion of the competition starting on May 6.
  • Three team captains and their chosen team members will compete simultaneously against each other in their respective run and bike segments.
  • Scoring is not only based on athletic performance; however, with the live audiences’ help, points will also be awarded for social media engagement and In-Broadcast Challenges.

Scoring Categories:  

  • Athletic Performance: Each week, team captains and their team members will test their endurance by competing in each of the respective disciplines of the Sprint, Olympic, or Half-Distance virtual duathlons. The scores for their swim, bike, and run segments for each distance are cumulative and combined with their selected team members’ run and bike times.
  • Social Media and Engagement: During the three-week-long competition, team captains will be given social media challenges; following each engagement, viewers will get the opportunity to vote on their favorite post, awarding the winning team with more points.
  • In-Broadcast Challenges: Throughout each region’s three-week-long competition, In-Broadcast Challenges will require athletes to think on their feet to show off their triathlon knowledge, helping them to earn more points and move them up on the team leader board.

IRONMAN VR All-Terrain Series – Urban Racing

Coinciding with the IRONMAN VR Team Challenge, the IRONMAN VR All-Terrain Series consist of six months of training-length challenges and virtual races that will take athletes on a tour of the best IRONMAN locales. In May, the IRONMAN VR All-Terrain Series is heading “downtown” for all things Urban. Urban Racing will place athletes smack-dab in the middle of the action in some of the world’s finest cities providing Urban inspired racing. IRONMAN VR18 is inspired by IRONMAN 70.3 Monterrey. With a finish at the Mexican History Museum in the Macroplaza, one of the largest plazas in the world, this race winds through historic landmarks and the chic commercial districts of this vibrant, cosmopolitan capital city a perfectly suited Urban racing environment.

Each month will focus on a different terrain – expect to virtually visit race destinations in different regions within each terrain. Offering three weekday workouts plus one weekend VR race, the IRONMAN VR All-Terrain Series will also consist of multiple month-long challenges. These month-long challenges allow athletes to chase a certain number of kilometers for the month in whatever sport they like and on their own time. For more information of this month’s challenges visit here.

IRONMAN Foundation

Team captains will set up IRONMAN Foundation Your Journey, Your Cause fundraising campaigns where they will be able to collect donations for a charity and cause that is important to them. The winning team from each regional showcase will receive a $5,000 donation from the IRONMAN Foundation to further grow their Your Journey, Your Cause fundraising campaigns. To learn more about the IRONMAN Foundation and Your Journey, Your Cause visit here.

For additional details on the IRONMAN VC platform, visit www.ironmanvirtualclub.com/. Questions about the IRONMAN Virtual Racing Series can be directed to ironmanvr@ironman.com.

For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. Media related inquiries may be directed to press@ironman.com.


About IRONMAN Virtual Club

The IRONMAN® Virtual Club™ (VC™) brings the global IRONMAN® community together virtually week-after-week. Launching in April of 2020, the platform gives athletes from around the world access to IRONMAN U Certified Coach curated workouts, training resources, and challenges that prepare athletes to compete in the IRONMAN Virtual Racing™ (VR™) Series. Athletes have the opportunity to train, compete, earn, and be rewarded as they set their goals towards a successful year of racing. In addition, through the Race Honorably campaign, IRONMAN’s goal is to provide an exceptional virtual racing experience with credible results that requires athletes to do their part by entering accurate data. Additional details about the IRONMAN VC platform can be found at www.ironmanvirtualclub.com/.

About the IRONMAN Foundation

The IRONMAN Foundation creates positive, tangible change in race communities by engaging athletes and volunteers to participate in programs that demonstrate service through sport and commitment to community. Since 2003, over $50,000,000 has been provided through giveback programs led by the IRONMAN Foundation to more than 9,500 local, regional, national and global nonprofit initiatives. Through these partnerships, IRONMAN and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series participants are powerfully linked to the community and together help leave a positive legacy behind in race communities long after event day. For more information on IRONMAN Foundation programs, including TEAM IMF, Community Fund, Rock This Town®, Your Journey Your Cause, and Women For Tri, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org.

About The IRONMAN Group

The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® Virtual Racing™ (VR™) Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll® Running Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Running™ Series, IRONKIDS®, World Triathlon Championship Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and The Sun-Herald City2Surf®, Ultra-Trail® World Tour events including Tarawera Ultra and Ultra-Trail Australia™, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events, and other multisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world and provides more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Since the inception of the iconic IRONMAN® brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with hundreds of events across 55+ countries. The IRONMAN Group is owned by Advance, a private, family-owned business. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

About Advance 

Advance is a private, family-held business that owns and invests in companies across media, entertainment, technology, communications, education and other promising growth sectors. Our mission is to build the value of our companies over the long-term by fostering growth and innovation. Advance’s portfolio includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, The IRONMAN Group, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, 1010data and Pop. Together these operating companies employ more than 17,000 people in 29 countries. Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Discovery and Reddit. For more information visit www.advance.com