Following the completion of the first round of the IRONMAN® VR™ Team Challenge that featured teams from North America, the competition will head overseas to Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) bringing a new region into the mix. The new live broadcast racing format focuses on three teams of age-group athletes that will compete and be broadcast exclusively on the IRONMAN Now Facebook Watch page. The three-month-long IRONMAN VR Team Challenge consists of three, three-week competition cycles which first began on March 17, 2021, pitting athletes from the North American region, before moving to EMEA and then Asia-Pacific. All eyes are now on EMEA as the region showcases its three teams who will battle it out for bragging rights over three weeks beginning on Thursday, April 8. A preview show to introduce the team captains will air on Wednesday, April 7 at 8 p.m. GMT (3 p.m. ET).
The EMEA competition cycle will consist of three teams of age-group athletes who will race in Sprint, Olympic, and Half Distance virtual duathlons. The teams will be captained by former Welsh international professional rugby union player Shane Williams, heart transplant and motivational speaker Elmar Sprink and IRONMAN® World Champion, IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion and IRONMAN African Championship age-group winner Michelle Enslin from South Africa. Notable professional triathletes will also be featured each week providing the teams an opportunity to bolster their scoring with Pro Wild Card Lifelines while engaging with the teams on the broadcast. Following the EMEA IRONMAN VR Team Challenge, the competition will continue with three teams from Asia-Pacific in the following weeks to come.
“We are extremely excited to showcase the EMEA region in the next installment of the IRONMAN VR Team Challenge, we have a great line up of team captains and look forward to following their progress as they battle it out for the regional bragging rights,” said Stefan Petschnig, Managing Director of IRONMAN EMEA. “Each team captain brings a wealth of experience in different aspects, from dealing with the pressures of playing international rugby in front of thousands of spectators on the world stage, to conquering the IRONMAN World Championship and winning her age group, to an athlete with an incredible story of overcoming obstacles and inspiring people every day. We are in for a thrilling and entertaining IRONMAN VR Team Challenge. We look forward to the next three weeks.”
The next IRONMAN VR Team Challenge will be broadcast starting with a preview show on Wednesday, April 7 at 8:00 p.m. GMT (3:00 p.m. ET) with the first EMEA featured region competition taking place on Thursday, April 8 at 8:00 p.m. GMT (3:00 p.m. ET). IRONMAN VR Team Challenge can be viewed on the IRONMAN Now on Facebook Watch page by visiting www.facebook.com/IRONMANnow.
|April 7||EMEA||Introduction of Team Captains from EMEA|
|April 8||EMEA||Olympic Distance Duathlon|
|April 15||EMEA||Sprint Distance Duathlon|
|April 22||EMEA||Half-Distance Duathlon|
|April 29||Asia Pacific||Introduction of Team Captains from Asia Pacific|
|May 6||Asia Pacific||Olympic Distance|
|May 13||Asia Pacific||Sprint Distance|
|May 20||Asia Pacific||Half-Distance|
EMEA Team make-up
The three-week EMEA competition cycle features three age-group Team Captains who will be required to complete the respective virtual events for that week (Sprint, Olympic, Half Distance). Additionally, each week, the captain will be tasked with forming a team of two athletes to join them for the weekend duathlon competition with the identified team members completing one of the disciplines (i.e. one biker and one runner). There will be no swim portion for the EMEA competition. There will also be two professional athletes joining the EMEA regional showcase as part of the challenge. Notable professional athletes will provide the opportunity to bolster the scoring with Pro Wild Card Lifelines while engaging with the teams on the broadcast. The professional athletes will join in the competition by posting a single sport split for either the bike or run segments. Team captains will have one opportunity during their three-week competition to swap one of their split times with a coordinating split time from their pro ambassador athlete, prior to the time being unveiled, allowing them to better their overall team time and performance.
EMEA Team Captains
Representing EMEA as Team Captains will be former international professional union rugby player Shane Williams, heart transplant athlete and inspiring keynote speaker Elmar Sprink and IRONMAN World Champion, IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion and IRONMAN African Championship age group winner Michelle Enslin. These captains will be tasked with forming a duo of athletes to join them each week for the competition scoring. Team Captains for the EMEA region to include:
- Shane Williams – Retired Welsh professional rugby union player most famous for his long and successful tenure as a wing for the Ospreys and the Wales national team. Shane is the record try scorer for Wales, and is fourth on the international list of leading rugby union test try scores. He is Wales’ most capped winger and is considered to be one of the greatest wingers to play the sport. Learn more about Shane here.
- Elmar Sprink – During IRONMAN Austria in 2010, Elmar Sprink was forced to withdraw after experiencing physical discomfort. This started the search for the cause of his condition. He was placed on a heart transplant donor list in the summer of 2011 and in June 2012, a suitable heart was found. Exactly 757 days after the operation, on July 6, 2014, Sprink was back competing in triathlon events and finished his first IRONMAN with the new heart in Frankfurt. Learn more about Elmar here.
- Michelle Enslin – Michelle is a veteran triathlete, multi-time IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa, IRONMAN 70.3 Durban and IRONMAN African Championship age-group winner, 2018 IRONMAN World Championship age-group winner (coming second in her age-group category in 2019), 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship age-group winner (placing fifth in her age-group category in 2019) and IRONMAN 4 the Kids Ambassador. Michelle is an energetic and uplifting individual which she channels into her love for triathlon, charity and loving on animals.
North American Final Results
Following the three weeks of North American competition, Team Morgon Latimore, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and IRONMAN U Certified Coach, prevailed earning the top spot with a combined final score of 265 points. Following in second Team Ryan Kinder, Nashville based singer and songwriter, with a combined score of 240 points, and Team Shannon Spake, veteran sportscaster, rounded out the competition with a combined score of 210 points. Each team captain was joined by a trio of athletes each week who helped contribute to the scoring competition scoring.