• Martin Spierings

How To Qualify For USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Updated: May 5

For many adult-onset or new to the sport triathletes, the words "National Championships" may be intimidating. Many athletes I've coached don't realize they would even have a chance to qualify, so they don't consider racing. In reality, for the majority it's not hard to qualify if you do a bit of training and apply a little strategy to your race selection as I detail below. I participated in the National Championships event (for the first time) in 2021 and had a great experience. In 2022 it will again be held in Milwaukee, WI in August. The event was professionally run, properly measured, competitive and fair. And, it makes a great goal to compete with your age group in one of the biggest Sprint/Olympic distance races of the year. How high can you place at Nationals?

There are various ways to qualify for Nationals elaborated on in detail on this page but the one to focus on is this: athletes must place in the top 2 or top 15% of their age group (whichever is greater) in USAT sanctioned age group triathlons of any distance. The first point to make, is that most triathlons you come across are USAT sanctioned. We have put together a list of NorCal triathlons and only one on there (that I know of) is unsanctioned. So the real key to getting into Nationals (which have both Olympic and Sprint distances) is to find a race that isn't very competitive and/or doesn't have many athletes in your age group. The best way to figure this out is to go through old results of the races and look at how many were in your age group. Looking for races that are 1) new, 2) in regional areas, and 3) don't have big marketing budgets or belong to a big series tend to be your best bet. Another trick is finding events that host both an Olympic and a Sprint, or Super-Sprint event on the same day or weekend. Enter the shorter distance as the better athletes tend to go longer and this will dilute the competition for the shorter event. Then, as the next selection priority you can look at the profile of the race and make sure it suits you (ie. if you're a strong cyclist, choose a tough, hilly bike course.)

The qualification period for 2022 Age Group Nationals extends to events back to June 1, 2021 and the qualification period will end on July 31, 2022. You can check official results for the triathlons you've completed here by typing in your name. You should get an email about 15 days after your race if you qualify. They are having some difficulties inputting new members into the system lately, so if you don't show up in their database and think you should, you may have already qualified and you'll need to send an email to follow up.

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