Professional Women Victorious in first Virtual Triathlon Relay during the HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR22 Pro Challenge

September 4, 2020

Over 5,500 athletes from 132 nations currently registered to compete in first training block of IRONMAN VR Kona Series

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 4, 2020) – In the first virtual relay team chase format for the IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge, three professional women, Lauren Brandon (USA), Nikki Bartlett (GBR) and Heather Jackson (USA) claimed victory for the women’s team over the professional men during the 22nd edition of the HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN® VR™ Pro Challenge. The women’s relay team crossed the finish line first successfully holding off the team of professional men that included Andrew Keily (USA), Sam Long (USA) and Ben Kanute (USA) who chased the professional women in a tight battle of the sexes.

Friday’s competition saw six top professional athletes go head-to-head- in a virtual triathlon relay. Two athletes prerecorded a 1km swim while two other members of the team prerecorded a 6km run at locations of their choice with their video being shared on the live HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge race broadcast. During Friday’s live race broadcast of the HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR22 Pro Challenge, 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.

Lauren Brandon, a former NCAA All-American swimmer and IRONMAN champion, set off with a seven-minute head start on the 1km swim and was followed into the water by Andrew Keily, a collegiate swimmer at Ohio State University. Both athletes finished their swim with the exact same time of 11:53, with Brandon maintaining the lead for the women out of the swim portion. 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. 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. Heather Jackson, fifth-place finisher at the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship, capped off the relay with an inspiring 6km run clocking a time 21:59. Ben Kanute, a 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.

The full broadcast of the HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN VR22 Pro Challenge can be viewed, HERE.


Professional women’s relay results: 

Discipline Name Country Time
SWIM: Lauren Brandon USA 00:11:53
BIKE: Nikki Bartlett GBR 00:32:54
RUN: Heather Jackson USA 00:21:59
TOTAL TEAM TIME:   01:06:46


Professional men’s relay results: 

Discipline Name Country Time
SWIM: Andrew Keily USA 00:11:53
BIKE: Sam Long GBR 00:30:08
RUN: Ben Kanute USA 00:18:48
TOTAL TEAM TIME:   01:00:49

In total, over 5,500 athletes from more than 132 nations and 48 states are currently registered to participate in IRONMAN VR22 Kona Speed Block. The first training block in IRONMAN VR Kona Series requires participants to swim or run 1km, ride 25km, then run 6km between Friday, Sept. 4 at 6 a.m. ET (10 p.m. GMT) and race close, Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7:59 p.m. ET (11:59 p.m. GMT). Athletes who participate in the IRONMAN VR22 Kona Speed Block can do the three race segments anywhere, indoors or outdoors, in any order and are not required to do the segments consecutively. Each IRONMAN VR Kona Series race in the five weeks leading up to the IRONMAN VR World Championship Celebration are focused on one of five key training elements utilized in preparation for a full-distance virtual triathlon: Speed (VR22), Strength (VR23), Knowledge (VR24), Endurance (VR25), and Preparation (VR26).

Following this weekend’s IRONMAN VR22 Kona Speed Block, the IRONMAN Virtual Racing community will enter the Strength Block, running from Sept. 11-13. For IRONMAN VR23 Kona Strength Block, athletes look at cutting back on the pace and increasing distance with a focus on getting stronger.

The new five-week-long series will take athletes on a training journey that culminates in a virtual full-distance IRONMAN race, to be held as part of a week-long 2020 IRONMAN VR World Championship Celebration. For the first time, 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 kicks 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.

Bringing the IRONMAN community together virtually, the IRONMAN® Virtual Club™ continues to grow and now has more than 118,000 members on the platform with thousands completing IRONMAN Virtual Club Challenges since its recent launch.

Full details and specifics regarding the IRONMAN Virtual Racing Championship Series as well as IRONMAN Virtual Club are available on www.ironmanvirtualclub.com. For questions about the IRONMAN Virtual Racing Series, athletes can email 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 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 Marathon Series®, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Running™ Series, IRONKIDS®, ITU World Triathlon Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and The Sun-Herald City2Surf® presented by Westpac, 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 (www.advance.com), a private, family-owned business. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.