This Saturday and Sunday (August 4-5), an expected record field of approximately 1,000 young triathletes aged 7-19 will return to Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio, for the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships. The event is being held in West Chester for the seventh consecutive year and will return annually through 2021.
Racing begins on Saturday with the draft-legal Youth Elite (ages 13-15) and Junior Elite (ages 16-19) National Championships. Athletes in these races earned spots on the start list through qualifying events, including last year’s national championship and the 2018 USA Triathlon Junior Elite Series. The draft-legal format is similar to what is contested at the Olympic Games and other elite International Triathlon Union (ITU) competitions.
The junior elite race, beginning at 08:00 ET for women and 09:40 for men, will feature a 750m swim, 20K bike and 5K run.
The top male and female finishers at Junior Elite Nationals will earn the opportunity to represent the US at September’s ITU Junior World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. (If the winner of the race has already earned a spot on the World Championships roster via another qualifier, the spot will go to the second-place finisher, and so forth).
The youth elite races begin on Saturday at 10:05 for girls and 12:05 for boys, and will cover a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run.
On Sunday, junior elite triathletes ages 13-19 will return to the start line for the Mixed Team Relay event at 07:30. The draft-legal team relay features four competitors (two male, two female) per team. Each team member will complete a 250m swim, 5k bike and 1.2k run before handing off to the next athlete. Approximately 50 relay teams are scheduled to compete.
The Mixed Team Relay format is similar to what is contested at the ITU World Mixed Relay Series and the ITU Mixed Relay World Championships. The event will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The weekend concludes with the Youth Age-Group National Championships, in which athletes ages 7-15 have the opportunity to earn national titles in their age groups. The race has no qualifying criteria.
Athletes in the paratriathlon open wave go off first at 10:40, followed by the first wave of age-group athletes at 10:55. Course distances are age-based, with athletes ages 7-10 completing a 100m swim, 5k bike and 1k run, and ages 11-15 completing a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run. Paratriathletes will contest the same course as the 11- to 15-year-olds.
For the fifth year, USA Triathlon is supporting children in underserved communities through its Tri for Change program. This program provides youth with the opportunity to train for a triathlon with a dedicated coach, culminating in a premier race experience at the Youth National Championships. In 2018, the program expanded to several chapters across the United States, including Cleveland; Camden, New Jersey; and Philadelphia.
As part of Tri for Change, children receive a training plan and guidance from a USA Triathlon Certified Coach, training gear and equipment on an as-needed basis, and financial support for travel, race entry and membership fees.
USA Triathlon will also host a Tri for Change Bike Build on Saturday, August 4th, from 07:00 to 15:30. Through this volunteer opportunity, participants will construct youth-sized bikes for underserved children in the local community.
Athletes, friends and family can follow the action at Youth & Junior Nationals with the USA Triathlon Events App. The app features athlete tracking, event schedules, live leaderboards and more, and is available for free download on iPhone and Android devices. Live race coverage will also be available on Twitter @USATLive.
Several members of the USA Triathlon National Team — including 2016 Olympians Ben Kanute and Greg Billington, 2015 Pan American Games silver medalist Kevin McDowell, two-time ITU Junior World Champion Taylor Knibb and ITU Junior and U-23 World Champion Tamara Gorman — all began their triathlon careers on the youth & junior elite racing circuits.