The virtual cycling and running platform Zwift will launch a six-week race series, the Zwift Running League, starting on April 16. The events will feature three- and four-runner teams from all around the world, and the action will take place every Friday until May 21, when the series wraps up. Zwift is introducing this running series after finding success with the Zwift Racing League (a cycling series) and Duathlon League. Treadmill running can be quite boring, but Zwift makes it a little more bearable, and adding racing into the mix could actually turn it into a fun affair.
The Zwift Running League will be divided six ways, all based on different timezones. Canadians will fall into either the Americas East or Americas West leagues, and there are also sections titled Europe East, Europe West, Asia and Oceana. Each of these individual leagues will feature their own contests, and all racers and teams must compete at the same time every week. This means that, while there might be races being run throughout the day, participants cannot choose to run with teams from another division.
Within these separate leagues, teams will be divided into “City Classes,” which are organized to ensure racing will be competitive for everyone involved. Athletes will rank themselves based on classes outlined one through five, with one being the fastest group (athletes who can average 2:30 to 3:25 per-kilometre pace over 5K) down to five (runners who average 5:26 to 6:12 pace over 5K).
Based on a team’s makeup and where their runners rank in the pace classes, they will be assigned to a City Class. From there, everyone is ready to race. The winners of each City Class event get 20 points, with points decreasing by one for every team ranked lower (19 points to second place, 18 to third and so on). Every team that finishes the event will get at least one point.
There are two types of races that will be contested in the Zwift Running League: points races and team relays. The points race is scored like a cross-country event, with each runner earning points based on their placing (first place gets one point, second place gets two, right on down to the last runner to finish). Teams can race with three or four runners in this event, but only the top three athletes will record points for their squad. The points races will vary in distance, measuring anywhere between 4.4K and 9K.
In the team relays, only three runners can participate. It’s a legitimate relay, too, and teams must set a specific order and run accordingly (although this predetermined order doesn’t need to be submitted to event organizers). Unlike the points races, which will be different lengths each week, the team relay races will all feature set 2K legs. When the race starts, the first member of each team will set off on his or her run. The remaining runners will stay in their “pen,” where they will have to wait until it’s their turn to run. If a runner leaves the pen prematurely, their team will be given a 20-second penalty.