Age Group Triathlon: A Beginners Guide to Qualifying


21.02.19 at 9:00 am

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Age group triathlon

Qualifying for GB age group triathlon is at the top of many triathletes’ ambitions. The process though is shrouded in mystery. How does the qualification process work, and what do you need to do to get up to qualification level? We spoke to local age grouper Anna Symms to shed some light on the process.

After doing pretty well in my first triathlon, some people commented about me pulling on a GB tri suit one day. I laughed and thought there is no way I will ever be a pro athlete racing for my country. For starters I’d missed the boat by picking up the sport at 28, plus there was a long way to go in terms of ability and fitness. However, it turns out they were right all along. I am now in a GB tri suit but without having to turn into a world-beating athlete like Non Stanford or Jodie Stimpson. How? Through the BTF age group triathlon qualifying system.


So, what is the age group triathlon system? Well, it allows regular people like you and me to compete for your country on the European and World stages by splitting us into five-year age brackets over the different distances. For example, I’m in the female 30-34 age group for Olympic distance triathlon. To qualify to represent GB in your age group you have to register your intent to qualify for the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships or European Triathlon Union (ETU) European Championships at your distance by being a member of your Home Nation association and paying a mere ten crisp British pounds. There are specific qualifying races depending on your distance and if you’re trying to qualify for the Worlds or Europeans, some races double up for both. Bonus! Each race has 4 automatic qualifying spots, then there are roll-down places based on your finishing time in a qualifying race being within 115% of the winner of your age group’s time for the Worlds and 120% for the Europeans.

Got all that?!

Good! Go race, do you best, and hunt people down on the bike and run when you can spot the age group triathlon lettering system telling you who you’re in the race against.

Unless you actually finish in the top 4 there is a bit of a nervous wait whilst the people at British Triathlon do the maths. Then the ‘Q’ appears next to your name as an email appears in your inbox and the excitement and relief rushes through you as you read “CONGRATULATIONS! You have qualified!”. Cue a few days/weeks of celebrations and shouting it from the rooftops!

Age group triathlon

So you’ve qualified. What next?

Then back down to earth. Qualifying was my main goal for the season, so now what?! All of a sudden you realise that you have to continue training as you’re now going to be competing against the top age group triathletes in the World or Europe. Whoa!!! Not only that but you have to sort out kit, flights, accommodation (the official BTF Nirvana flight/accommodation packages go like hot cakes), pay your race entry fee, and hopefully get some sponsorship to cover all of those costs. It is spreadsheet central! Then you have to get your precious piece of carbon to the other side of the world (or Europe), crossing everything during the whole flight that nothing has gone wrong and you can pick up an intact bike in the baggage hall upon arrival.

You are a GB triathlon age group team member, one of the top in the country, go enjoy yourself and remember how awesome you are. The whole age group triathlon experience is worth every penny.

Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance is also the official insurance supplier to the British Triathlon Federation. We offer BTF members a 15% discount and if you qualify for any age-group race you earn a special 20% discount (you can find your unique code in your qualification confirmation). Great news, considering how many age groupers are looking for good bicycle and cycling travel insurance ahead of the World Championships in Lausanne later this year. Learn about our Triathlon Bicycle Insurance.

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