Bridging the gap with the virtual challenge

Published:

Wikiwiki are an online triathlon club with a British Triathlon affiliated triathlon team who made the most of the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds Virtual Challenge to connect and inspire their members.

As an online club with members around the country, Wikiwiki haven’t had much disruption to the way they operate as a club due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, one thing that was affected was them no longer being able to bring the Wikiwiki Tri Team to take part in the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds in June.

“When the event was postponed, the virtual challenge was a great way for those signed up to still have something to aim for,” said Rob Sears, Club Lead at Wikiwiki Tribe. “With it being virtual, it also meant that people who weren’t signed up could take part from home in a way that suited them.

“Having the challenge focussed our members’ training on something positive and kept them going because there was something to work towards, and being one of the few virtual multisport events, rather than just running, it has been really successful.”

The club was set up by Sears and his partner Loren in 2019 because of the benefits that being online bring in terms of accessibility and flexibility to access coached sessions.

“I’m visually impaired and currently training hard for paratriathlon events in 2021. While Loren and I are learning how to ride a tandem, Loren is racing by herself,” commented Sears.

“Loren was due to take part in Leeds again this year, but I’ve never been able to, so when the virtual challenge came up, we both signed up because it meant we could both take part”.

“I’ve been as a spectator and it’s always a great weekend of activity, especially being able to watch the elites after everyone else has been round. The virtual challenge allowed me to be a part of the experience I’ve enjoyed from the side, but this time as a participant.

“Virtual activities give so much scope to inclusivity because of the freedom to take part how and when you like.

“That’s why we set up Wikiwiki, to be inclusive for everyone, to be flexible and fit in around work and life commitments but also to give people with disabilities like myself the support to take part at home and to offer training that fits around people’s lives in ways that work for them. The virtual challenge is the same.”

The 5,500 participants who took part in the virtual challenge had a choice of distances to complete between 20 and 26 July. How, where and when they completed it was up to them, giving participants the option to complete it all in one go or break the challenge up over the week.

“I’m coming back from injury, so am still building my running up,” Sears added. “Being able to log the distances over the week helped me on my return, but also helped others to get involved knowing they didn’t have to do it all in one go.

“With lockdown and the need to take part in virtual activities and events, I think there’s been an increase in the understanding and change in attitudes towards virtual activity. Regular triathletes and non-triathletes have all accessed it because you can do it like a continuous event from home or break it down to suit your ability and current activity level.”

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