JUMP TO:

Behind The Scenes: Super League Pro Triathlon on Zwift–How it all works

DSC_8337

Yesterday I went for a quick meander down to Rotterdam to check out the first major Super League Triathlon Arena Games event. Of course, unlike a typical Super League Triathlon Series event, there were virtually no spectators, no cheering crowds, and the non-watery parts were done entirely in Zwift. Oh, and it was broadcast to 30+ countries on regular TV live. How the world has changed.

In any event, super sprint type triathlons for pros are not new. You might remember 7 years ago when I went to watch a fully outdoor one in a Las Vegas Casino parking lot. These days though the Super League Triathlon entity conducts events in various locations around the world, with large purse prizes and elaborate hospitality setups onsite. The event is essentially spectator focused, with pro athletes competing in a round-robin repeating format: Swim, bike run, then reset into a different order of swim/bike/run, and then repeat a third time.

However, what makes this entirely different is that this time the bike and run are in Zwift, while the swim is in a 50m pool in front of them. While indoor triathlons are common for clubs in the winter, the organizational complexity here is substantially more difficult due to the challenges of the repeating sets as well as integration with Zwift – a platform definitely not suited to triathlon (more on how creative they have to get, later).

So in this post I want to dive into all the nuances of the behind the scenes aspects. If you want to watch the full broadcast, you can hit up their YouTube channel to see it here. However, if you want to see my entire behind the scenes video with all the nuggets in there, simply hit play below:

Ok, let’s get into the details.

The Format:

DSC_8196

The entire goal behind a super sprint triathlon is to make it TV-friendly. As such, an 8-10 hour long Ironman this is not. Instead, the whole thing wraps up in about 45 minutes, perfect to fit into an hour TV slot with commercials, or two hours for both men’s and women’s groups to compete.

As noted, the race is a triple sprint triathlon. Three sets of races, run back to back with a short 2 min 30 second break in between to get people into the right positions. Notice how the order of the event changes for the 2nd and 3rd stages:

image

Also, unlike a normal triathlon, the end-state winner is a blend of points and time. Each stage is absolutely time based, so the first person across the virtual running race finish line is the ‘winner’ for that stage, and awarded 10 points, 2nd person is 9 points, and so on.

However, for Stage 2, they all start ‘equal’ again, and then a second set of points are awarded based on that particular Stage. Rinse repeat again, and a winner is crowned.

Here’s where each segment is completed:

Swim – 200m: The 50-meter pool in front of them
Bike – 4km: Zwift Crit City Course (cycling)
Run – 1km: Zwift Crit City Course (running)

Now as mentioned, this is all about spectators, and one of the bigger challenges that Zwift has seen with their pro series races over the last year or two is making it easy for spectators watching Zwift avatars online to figure out which rider is which visually. Sure, you can put names above them – but the visual identity is just as important.

Super League solves that in probably one of the more interesting aspects in that each athlete is provided a tri suit that matches both real world and virtual. However, more importantly – with only 10 athletes, everyone is wearing a uniquely clear color. For example, Anne Haug from Germany in Blue, or Maya Kingma from the Netherlands in Orange.

image

And what about sponsors you ask? Well, the race will print sponsor names on the uniforms, and the athletes have until just 5 days prior to the race to get those to the organizer. It’s impressive to see the logistics of such to allow effectively last second entry into the event.

DSC_8269

A couple of other randomly interesting things in the event:

– The facility included both a warm-up pool a swell as a dedicated area for warming up on treadmills and rollers
– Athletes are paid to be there (like many high profile races) and that includes accommodations
– The prize purse included $7,500 for the winner (each male and female)

Here’s the two warm-up areas:

DSC_8252 DSC_8301

Finally, from a COVID-19 standpoint, there were only a handful of spectators in the facility, most of which were actually athletes that had competed earlier in the day. All people in the building were required to wear masks at all times (except the athletes currently competing) – and the organization provided those masks to everyone entering. And all people had to remain spaced at 1.5 meters apart (the required distance in the Netherlands). The treadmills/trainers appeared to be a touch more than 2 meters apart from each other. Some federations required their athletes to also be tested for COVID-19.

2020-08-23 13.33.20

Given various global travel restrictions, it meant that certain athletes from the US, Australia, and elsewhere weren’t able to attend. One Australian athlete (Natalie Van Coevorden) was already in Europe at the time, hence her ability to attend. Also of note was that some countries actually have exemptions for travel related to professional athletes with various requirements in place.

The seating area had placards on the vast majority of them dictating where you could and couldn’t sit, ensuring the spacing – and there were also staff that came around if they saw anyone getting too close to remind them to separate. And of course, no interaction with the pro athletes was allowed, and no yelling/screaming/cheering/etc (clapping was allowed). Even during the awards ceremony, medals were not placed on athlete’s necks, they were laid on a stand to pick up by each athlete and put on their own necks. All surfaces (iPads, Trainers, Mats, Treadmills) were also disinfected as well between any athlete changes.

Finally, I’d say that as one who lives in the Netherlands and gets to observe how various entities (businesses, schools, grocery stores, etc…) conduct themselves in relation to COVID-19 on a daily basis, this was *by far* the most well-run entity I’ve seen anywhere here with respect to COVID-19 rules and doing their best to make it work.

The Tech:

DSC_8200

So, let’s talk tech. That’s what you’re likely here for anyway. To begin, we’ll state the obvious – the swim is in the water. Specifically, pool water. And more specifically, a 50-meter pool.

DSC_8289

There was no tech in the pool, the athletes jumped in akin to a normal ITU triathlon (so, not on the blocks, just from a platform). The athletes completed their 200m swim, and then hit a button at the end of the lane to mark their swim and time as complete. The button wasn’t super important per se for the segments that didn’t end with a swim. However, it was more useful for the segment that ended with a swim to mark it as finished.

After they finished their swim they had to drop their swim gear in the box next to the platform. Else, they’d receive a penalty. In fact, anytime they didn’t place their gear in the box after that segment they’d receive a 5-second yellow card penalty.

With the swim done, they run over to their bikes on trainers. The event was partially sponsored by Tacx, and as such, they had Tacx NEO 2T trainers there.

DSC_8249

And since Rotterdam was just a few minute drive from Leiden (home of Tacx), they also had Tacx staff on-hand acting as mechanics. They were swapping out cassettes as required to ensure compatibility with different drivetrains of athletes (for example an 11-speed cassette versus a 12-speed one).

DSC_8255

The Tacx NEO 2T’s were then connected via Bluetooth Smart to an iPad on a tablet stand in front of them. The Super League staff noted that for them the big advantage of the NEO 2T trainers was there was zero calibration option, which meant they didn’t have to deal with/worry about differences or about people dorking with them.

DSC_8245

Those connected iPad Pros were actually rented for this event, which turned out to cause some minor heart-ache when the vendor didn’t include the original power adapters with them, so they’d slowly drain their batteries during the event running Zwift constantly, rather than holding charge.

DSC_8332

Thus the day before the event the organizers had to make a run to a nearby electronics store and buy a bunch of higher amperage wall plugs to ensure they didn’t power off mid-ride or run.

Also, pre-race there was mandatory controlled weigh-ins for all athletes, so that their in-game weights matched their real-world weights.

Now, the 4km long Zwift Crit City Course had double-draft enabled (just as the Virtual Tour de France did last month). However, what was potentially far more interesting is the logistics of setting up each bike and run. See, Zwift doesn’t have any sort of triathlon mode, nor any sort of ‘multi-stage’ race mode. So for the first Stage, when they arrived at the bike following the swim, the Zwift ‘Race’ had technically already started. It was simply that the bikes were in the starting corral waiting for them to start pedaling.

DSC_8298

The same was true for the run. Those ‘races’ were basically started earlier. But wait – it gets even trickier. See, Zwift requires races to be pre-built and start at a specific time. So in this case, the first Zwift bike leg started at 13:06 – and that was fine, the athletes got there a couple of minutes later and started racing. The same for the first run.

However, for the 2nd stage bike and run, those events started at predefined times about 10 mins later. If however there was a delay at the event (perhaps due to a broadcast issue, or something in the facility) – then the entire event would have been hosed – because the riders/runners wouldn’t have been able to go back and compete across the three sets of races. Obviously, events like this are a one-off in the grand scheme of Zwift, and given this event was co-produced with Zwift, it’s likely they could have salvaged stuff, but a delay was described as “a nightmare” scenario specifically because of the stacked nature of the races.

DSC_8329

Speaking of which, each athlete raced under unique profiles for this event. Two in fact. Each person had a runner profile created for them, and a rider profile created, thus allowing them to go back and forth between the different sports. Also, staff members then logged out and re-logged back in every athlete in between each stage leg, to join the next race setup. Another level of complexity that makes your head hurt – given they only had a couple of minutes to do this across 20 iPads.

DSC_8248

Next, let’s talk the run.

The treadmills were self-powered Assault Fitness Air Runners. There was not a sponsorship for this part of the event (hence why they were blacked out). These were units they bought themselves and then had the enjoyment of assembling 14 treadmills on Thursday in Rotterdam (10 for the racing + 4 for warm-ups).

DSC_8312

These curved treadmills are self-powered, which means that the runner must provide the power to get the platted belt up to speed. So the speed is controlled by the runner. It also means they tend to favor heavier athletes to overcome that initial resistance. Practicing running on this type of treadmill would be strongly recommended prior to racing an event such as this, especially with respect to getting it up to speed.

DSC_8221

While this treadmill can provide speed directly to Zwift, the tech team there didn’t find it super accurate, so they instead used NPE Runn units at the front of each treadmill to capture the exact speed of the treadmill and broadcast it via Bluetooth and ANT+, which are then connected to iPad Pro units running Zwift via Bluetooth Smart. This provides pace and running cadence.

DSC_8313

They found that, for the curved treadmill, using the standard calibration yielded more accurate results. The staff also noted that they took pains to ensure that even the NPE Runn stickers were placed in exactly the same spot on each and every treadmill to ensure consistency. They also noted that they even adjusted the rear of the treadmill to the exact same height, making the units level (versus sometimes being a bit more slanted).

DSC_8277

All of the data from a race standpoint is driven purely by the iPad Pros in front of the athletes, going to Zwift just like any other person in their living room. There’s no ‘behind the scenes’ data capture. While they did have some Zwift to treadmill connectivity hiccups in the test events the days prior, they didn’t appear to have any while I was there for the women’s race yesterday.

I asked multiple people involved whether a wired trainer or treadmill connection would have helped here anywhere – and they answered a variant of ‘Meh, maybe…but probably not’. They noted that for them it would have been more useful to lock-out connection attempts beyond that specific iPad/Trainer (or treadmill) pairing. Meaning that with the Tacx trainers only accepting a single Bluetooth Smart connection, they did all the pairing ahead of time, but with having to log out and log back in to each iPad and Zwift pairing three times in a short span (for both ride and run), there was a chance that another iPad (or device elsewhere) could block that connection to the trainer/treadmill. In that case, the staff simply unplugged things and re-plugged them back in to reset the connections.

And again – just like with the cycling side, you can see a treadmill here waiting for the next Zwift ‘Race’ to start, even though the actual sprint triathlon is going on around the arena as I took this photo:

DSC_8341

By and large though, what you saw in this broadcast was actually fairly close to what you can set up at home. There was no real major or special sauce setup here from a Zwift standpoint. It’s all pretty straightforward.

The Broadcast:

DSC_8360

As noted earlier, the event is really about the broadcast – and in non-COVID times, about the spectator angle of it. Hence why it’s broadcast in more than 30 countries live (actually, it’s more like 100+ countries since SuperSport covers the continent of Africa, and the Olympic channel covers all of the EU, etc…). That’s all in addition to watching it on Super League’s site, Facebook, and YouTube.

image

Of course, like everything else with this event – there was no easy button. And that was made even more complex with new UK travel restrictions a week ago, requiring 14-day quarantine coming from certain EU countries. Here, let me explain:

In Arena Camera Work: Rotterdam – where a local TV production crew did camera work
Zwift Game Feed: Edinburgh – This is where Zwift does all their broadcast work (I detail that here)
Production Director: London – This is where they decide which camera/video/etc is used, live
Commentators: Sydney – This is where Macca was commentating live
Graphics (live): Singapore – The graphics are generated with timing overlays and race textual graphics

Originally the plan was that the TV production crew from London would come over and produce the event in live TV trucks outside the venue, just as it’s done for most sporting events like football, baseball, etc… Standard issue stuff. But with the new quarantine rules coming back into the UK, that meant the production crew stayed in London instead (though, the Super League Triathlon staff did travel to Rotterdam and will have to quarantine upon return).

2020-08-23 14.03.32

However, the camera crews were local in the Netherlands. They started setup of the trucks and all their cabling on Friday, and then transitioned to doing test runs with age group athletes into Saturday. So while that was never broadcast anywhere, they basically used those days and 5 series of races to perfect what the broadcast would look like for the pros on Sunday.

DSC_8324

They then coordinated with a local crew that was controlling the big screen in the arena as for what to show, which was mostly the broadcast feed being showed. He sat in his own little room controlling that.

2020-08-23 13.37.39

The organizers stated they were “exceedingly happy” with how things came together despite this being the first time doing this sort of event. They said the practice sessions helped, and in watching the finished broadcast back today, things seemed relatively smooth. Some minor hiccups, and some realities of having commentators on literally the other side of the world in terms of delays – but given everything…impressive.

The Business Model:

DSC_8343

So it’s about this point you’re probably asking yourself: How on earth is this at all financially viable?

And that’s pretty much the same question I had when I first walked in the door. Putting on an event like this isn’t cheap. Be it renting out the facility, to buying all that black carpet you see to cover the entire pool deck (or all the signage), to buying all brand new treadmills, to hiring three broadcast trucks for 3-4 days, plus flying in athletes, paying for hotels, etc…

To quote one individual with the organization, “the event will lose a reasonable amount of money”, however, they see it as an investment for a longer-term business. Just the same way Zwift loses a reasonable amount of money each month – it’s seen as a gateway to eventually turning a profit, today dependent on investor backing.

In the case of the SLT Arena Games, as well as the general Super League Triathlon series, the main goal is spectator sport then participant sport. The revenue primarily comes from host city fees, sponsorships (such as the Tacx one you saw), and corporate hospitality presences/packages. Those corporate packages are basically where entities pay for a complete experience in-person at these events, just like you see at the Tour de France or Australian Open, or any big sporting event. A company comes in, buys a race-side fancy tent for their employees or guests, and get wined and dined for the day watching racing. Pretty common stuff in sports.

They do see some broadcaster fees (where broadcaster pays Super League Triathlon to broadcast the event), but noted that’s a pretty minor element financially. As anyone involved in triathlon knows, there’s not a lot of money in triathlon. Cycling this is not. And football this is definitely not.

While age groupers did get to enjoy being guinea pigs in the day or so prior to the pro events, the Super League folks say that from a business standpoint it’s simply “not scalable” to do this sort of production for age groupers as a participation event. You just can’t run enough people through it to realistically cover your costs. That’s why most indoor triathlons you see are usually team events where turning a profit isn’t required. Also, they tend to have crazy long days, taking advantage of team volunteers to get everyone though (and most of them tend to place the run outside). Though, they are a blast, and I’ve participated in many of them over the years.

And, I think there’s also an opportunity there for Zwift to make some minor tweaks to how races are organized to potentially make those sorts of events viable for clubs on Zwift.

Ultimately, the future of Super League Triathlon indoors (or outdoors) will depend on whether they can keep the race interesting to watch. And, as I write this I’m watching both the men’s and women’s events from yesterday – and I can say that by far for an indoor venue race, it’s a much better watch on the TV broadcast than in person. Whereas I suspect for an outdoor event it’d be more fun in person.

Wrap-Up:

DSC_8304

Overall I’m pretty impressed with how this event came together, both logistically as well as in the final broadcast version. To people watching at home (or me, at my desk right now), you’d never had realized all the craziness behind the scenes to make something like this physically work from a race standpoint. All the people splattered around the world managed to make it quite cohesive given the circumstances, and I’d love to see how they can plug the handful of tiny gaps seen down the road in a 2nd or 5th edition.

While I’m not sure there’s a viable business reason for Zwift to do so, I’d love to see them be able to make it slightly more cohesive for this sort of event to occur in-game. For example, none of the 20 pro athletes ‘got credit’ for this in their Zwift profiles, because the logistics of putting on these events made it impossible for each athlete to use their own profiles in two places at once (run and bike). But implementing something like this would also be fascinating for regular triathletes as well. To be able to create a combined bike/run workout for example (or bike/run race) – that’d be cool for those athletes that do have treadmills at home. But again, I’m not sure there’s a viable business justification for doing so.

I do think though this sort of event shows how smooth the behind the scenes production/broadcast aspects of Zwift have become. As I showed in my Tour de France bits, this sort of event is mostly a shruggable event for them in terms of complexity. They’ve got people who put on these races day in and day out, and each month we tend to see slight increases in the overall production value. I do still think though the rendering quality of the bike/run pieces from a bitrate standpoint leaves some to be desired.

Still – as I finish up watching the men on the broadcast replay in the background, I continue to be impressed with how engaging this is, probably because of the fact that these athletes are actually together in a single place – which seems to add something (somehow) to the overall realism aspect.

With that – thanks for reading!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

46 Comments

  1. J

    Georgia Taylor-Brown is British!

  2. Mitch

    I think they should have had to carry their bikes up 4 flights of townhouse stairs, pull the rear wheel off, finagle it on to the turbo, load Zwift, convince Zwift to connect, and set up their fans properly before starting the bike leg. Much more realistic.

  3. Cal

    So many people had their noses sticking out of their masks. Why even bother.

  4. Edwin

    Do those women trisuits have built-in bra’s? Or are they are not needed during running? (asking for a friend)

    • Greg

      They are soo Frapping tight so that helpa

    • JimC

      They don’t usually come with a built-in bra, at least not the ones I’ve seen for sale here and from chatting to female members of my club. One thing to consider is that the clearer colours may go transparent when you come out of the water… a problem one of the women in my club has as she doesn’t need a bra, and our club colours are fairly clear.

  5. Fran

    Great post, Ray, and a nice event, but they need to clean their act a bit more; at least a couple of big mistakes by the production director during the broadcasts, not focusing on the right camera… missing the Vilaca/Gomez sprint is a big no-no!

    • Yeah, I think there’s a learning curve – especially when the production teams are so spread apart. Up until 7 days prior to the event, the plan was to have the director and related production crews onsite. But that changed to the new travel restrictions, thus adding a layer of complexity to an already complex production.

      In some ways, when everything is virtual it’s easier, because everything is much more clear from an incoming feed standpoint. Versus with real humans moving around real cameras, one second it could be on Athlete A, and the next on Athlete B.

    • leon newliston

      I just watched the women’s race through. Apart from logistical issues with where runners were sited and the inherent advantage from that, the camera feeds and commentators were the only issue eg , the final bike sprint went missing (which was the most annoying one) and there were obvious timing differences during the swim. Early days though but having the PIP of the athletes was good and it made for good TV (maybe I’m missing watching sport but also interesting to see the zwift faces (the PIP of the athlete when really putting it in)). Overall worth it and will watch more. Maybe if broadcast online through a site you might be able to choose your own camera feed so you could check on who you were interested in rather than the vagaries of the directors choice, which would make it more interactive.

  6. Jonathan

    Can anyone answer – would speed measured by the NPE Runn units be biased by the curved treadmill? It seems the span of tread would be longer than the actual stride length of the runner, such that the tread is moving faster than than the runner would be on a flat surface. This wouldn’t matter as far as the competition is concerned, but would matter in the Zwift world at large or for anyone with a curved treadmill that cared for an accurate running speed.

    • Good question, and I have no idea. 🙂

    • Pedro

      Not 100% sure how curved treadmills work. However, they are measuring near the foot strike zone. So treadmill belt (or whatever curved ones are called) would move in unison with the foot. So foot would travel same distance as measured. You would over/under estimate if you measured the underside… where the belt stretches to acommodate the curve. As long as the foot is moving along with an mostly unstretchable band, you are measuring the same distance.

      In both treadmills the band actually stretches, which would induce an error, which is still probably less than any GPS track 😉

  7. josh

    thanks for delving into this. there has been an unofficial zwift duathlon series since the beginning of the year. while i think the series is as good as it can be with the limitations, the big one being how complicated most people find it to be when signing up for 3 different events and coordinating starting times. hopefully this will spur zwift into changing the programing aspect of a continuous bike/run event(or whatever order of sports, including up coming rowing.)

  8. Michael Foerster

    When I first glanced at the Twitter treadmill picture, I thought, wow, what gym is that 😂😂😂
    Great report & video, put very well together

  9. fisao

    Thanks for the reporting Ray, great as usual.

    As to virtual competition and the interest it might pique: I still don’t watch virtual cycling races, but funnily enough, I can see myself watching this sort of multi sport event if there were no “real” races happening.

    To me the fact that all athletes in this race are truly working with the same equipment and all have the same race conditions makes it seem fair. As opposed to when some are at different altitudes, with unverified equipment setup and weights.

    Still needs a more thorough and less awkward Zwift integration IMO.

  10. DerLordBs

    I don’t see the point why an indoor triathlon should be safer than an outdoor triathlon. The aerosols are more dangerous indoors than outdoors.

  11. Kurt

    Ray, I think the key will be Zwift allowing for multisport activities. They are supposed to roll out rowing (any day/week now??). You could create interesting “Tri-” events with row, bike and run. Probably not as easy as it sounds programing wise, but would be great to jump right from the rower to the bike and you avatar would follow without logging out and back in. A lot of people (myself included) have the ability to participate from home, having a treadmill, bike trainer, and concept2. Certainly more folks than who have a lap pool in their back yard:-))

  12. josh

    i’m thinking they should have made the 2nd leg (starting with the bike) a different course rather than crit city. something with a hill to try and break up the group slightly. it was clear the wattage was lower and everyone was sitting in. something with a 2 minute climb (watopia KOM) would have been perfect to create some slight gaps would have made it more interesting.

  13. Irawan Johan

    Do you know which brand of the curved treadmill they use?

  14. Aaron

    Hey Ray,
    Awesome tech coverage of a very interesting event.
    On an unrelated note, what was the rectangular watch you were wearing in the video?

  15. leon newliston

    Hi Ray
    As I started Zwift running way back in the easter egg days (a few days after it came out) I did a bit of experimenting during riding races where I used them as bricks, which were quite useful for training. It was a while ago so can’t remember what dates so can’t look at my strava to see what recorded. Shortly afterwards zwift shut this down with no explanation other than “people didn’t want something like that” (Jon M to me during a discussion). I tried to highlight how useful it would be for triathletes and allow better races but was ignored. So they can do it, it was there and not sure why they stopped it other than having a problem with identification of different facets when data uploading (not sure of intricacies of a fit file data content).

    • Interesting.

      Yeah, my understanding is Jon has playing less and less a role in the day to day development decisions these days, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes from that.

      I think the best position for Jon is really more as a CTO type geek with no direct reports. Basically someone who gets to play with all sorts of tech (stuff like xCloud, Stadia, etc…) and figure out the ‘what’s possible’ with tech, rather than having to manage code check-ins day to day.

      I don’t get the feeling Zwift has someone like that. Perhaps they do…but not sure.

      I think having Jordan Rapp though onboard now might light up some of these scenarios, given his triathlon background. He made some comments over on Slowtwitch on the thread there that are worthwhile reading.

      As I messily attempted to illustrate above, while on TV they made the execution of this look ‘clean’, they were basically just just one couple minute delay away from a complete live TV disaster, due to limitations of the platforms they were dependent on.

      I’m excited to see where they can take it – and perhaps where the model can be easily spun off and put in a box for indoor triathlons down the road (ones that clubs could use in the winter).

    • Leon Newliston

      Thanks for the reply Ray (and for the article). Yes, when you were describing the changeovers and the tech support I was mentally envisaging the myriad ways I have previously been booted or denied access or (especially) BLE has switched to some other device as I was doing the usual last minute “oh, that event looks good, I’ve got 10 minutes, that should be plenty of time”. Then I end up with my wife telling me to stop swearing so loudly or the neighbours will call family services. I jumped immediately when they brought running on board because Scottish winters are long and dreich and training outdoors is hard to face for this little displaced Ozperson (Antipodeans generally being blessed with reasonable winters) but the two sign in processes give you twice the ability to not make it to the start of an event. Fingers crossed :).

  16. Steven Olander

    Thank you Ray for this awesome coverage! Both here and on Youtube! This is why i happily support you all I can.

  17. flokon

    What a sham. Just test athletes prior to an event an let them have at it, instead of making electronic companies richer than they already are.

    • Testing isn’t always viable for ‘fun’ in all places/countries. Hence finding a balance.

      I don’t really understand the electronic companies comment. Wouldn’t that same implication be applicable outdoors – saying ‘instead of making the bike companies richer than they already are?’.

  18. Justin

    What utter rubbish. When will this ridiculous charade end. Virtual cycle races & triathlons. You couldn’t make it up.

    • Why is a charade?

      I’m genuinely curious. The athletes are still having to work their asses off, and in a format that’s been around for literally decades. You realize that – right? This isn’t new. The only thing new here is adding Zwift instead of a boring timer. People have been doing this during the winter for well before Zwift or even iPads existed.

      I’m just trying to understand why its a charade? Does it threaten you? If so, how?

  19. JasonJHenryTri

    Great article!

  20. DerLordBs

    Risk of getting infected is indoors 20 time higher than outdoors. link to time.com

  21. Adam

    Hi Ray
    I flicked this on in front of my family, we’d never normally watch a triathlon event, but we actually watched it and enjoyed it.
    Good to see some close competition.

  22. TheStansMonster

    “see it as an investment for a longer-term business”

    How? Why?

    Who wants to do this other than for the prize money? Who wants to watch this more than once for anything other than a novelty? Maybe it’s a passable solution for a year while outdoor races are canceled but the number of logistical hoops they are jumping through to keep it fair and accurate compared to a normal outdoor race is far too distracting to be entertaining.

  23. Alberto

    I got a question about Covid.

    Once I heard that pools are, a pool of virus and bacterias, so I think here pools are going to be the last places to open, after penguins got vaccinated in Antarctica. So Do you know how the pool was sanitised for the race to avoid one person with Covid leaving viruses on the water ready to infect every other one on the next swim stage?

    • Christian Köhler

      In Germany open air pools have been reopened early (end of may) for the general public. I have used them quite often (in Berlin).
      There are safety measures. You have to buy a ticket online for a specific time slot. This limits the number of people and it avoids queueing at the entrance. Contact tracing is also much easier. People have to swim in the same direction to keep distance.
      They say transmission in the pool itself is unlikely because the virus dies very quickly in chlorinated water.
      Some indoor pools have been opened for organized sports (und swimming leassons), but not for the general public.
      As far as I know there have been no outbreaks in pools.

    • “Do you know how the pool was sanitised for the race”

      Injection of sanitizer, obviously.

  24. fotiad1sk

    Did anyone else noticed that Klamer run the first stage bare foot ?!
    It’s visible at the opening photo of this post and very clear at the youtube footage.

  25. Nicos Loucaides

    Any ideas as to how did they ensure the tacx neos stay connected to zwift? Isnt the case if they stay idle they loose connections?

  26. i’m figuring they ought to have made the second leg (beginning with the bicycle) an alternate course as opposed to crit city. something with a slope to attempt to separate the gathering marginally. it was clear the wattage was lower and everybody was sitting in. something with a brief trip (watopia KOM) would have been impeccable to make some slight holes would have made it all the more intriguing.

  27. Erin

    There are a few features of Runn that make it easier to work in an environment like this:

    1. Multiple connections available to each Runn makes it easier to connect to the Runn, even if it is connected to a device you’re not expecting it to be.
    2. The new ability to turn BLE advertising off, makes it much easier to find the Runn you want.