Thousands of the US nation’s top amateur triathletes will converge on Cleveland’s Edgewater Park next month, as the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships return to the city for the first time since 1992. The USAT Age Group Nationals, set for August 11-12, is USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running national championship event.
First held in 1983, this event regularly draws athletes from all 50 US states and Washington, D.C. The size of the field has more than tripled since 2010, making Age Group Nationals consistently one of the top-five largest triathlons in the United States. This year’s race will draw near-record participation, as more than 4,000 athletes are registered with a month to go until race day. USAT notes that the largest participation to date took place in 2014, when 5,789 athletes registered to race in Milwaukee.
“USA Triathlon is proud to showcase the nation’s fastest age-group triathletes — from competitors in their teens all the way through their eighties — for this annual showcase of multisport talent,” said Brian D’Amico, USA Triathlon’s Director of Events. “We have been overwhelmed by the support of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland MetroParks, the City of Cleveland and the entire community as we prepare for an action-packed weekend of racing.”
“The Cleveland community can’t wait to welcome a near-record number of national triathletes to Northeast Ohio,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. “USA Triathlon, Cleveland Metroparks and the City of Cleveland have been incredible partners in the hosting this event. We are confident that the attending athletes and their families will have a great experience as they take to the shores of the Lake Erie.”
The event features two national championship races over two days at Edgewater Park, a 147-acre lakefront with 9,000 feet of shoreline. The Olympic-Distance National Championships, set for 07:00 ET on Saturday, August 11, will cover a 1,500m swim, 40K bike and 5K run. The Sprint National Championships, which feature a 750m swim, 20K bike and 5K run, will begin at 07:00 ET on Sunday, August 12.
Registration is still open for both events. Athletes must qualify for Olympic-Distance Nationals through the criteria outlined on usatriathlon.org, and must be at least 17 years old by December 31, 2018, to compete. Sprint Nationals do not require qualification, and athletes may register online. Sprint Nationals participants must be at least 15 years old by December 31, 2018.
In addition to chasing national titles, athletes will also compete for coveted spots on USA Triathlon’s Team USA, comprised of the nation’s top amateur athletes who represent the US at ITU Age Group World Championship events.
At Olympic-Distance Nationals, the top 18 finishers in each age group, after applying the age-up rule (rolling down to 25th place), will earn the right to represent Team USA at the 2019 ITU Standard-Distance Age Group World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sprint-distance competitors must finish in the top eight of their age groups to make Team USA for the Sprint World Championships. While Sprint Nationals in Cleveland is not draft-legal, the Sprint World Championships in Lausanne will feature a draft-legal bike leg. Athletes will have a second opportunity this season to qualify for the Sprint World Championships through the USA Triathlon Draft-Legal Triathlon National Championships, set for October 13 in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida.
A number of athletes competing in Cleveland in August have already earned their opportunity to race for Team USA (through last year’s National Championships) and will compete at the 2018 ITU Age Group World Championships in September in Gold Coast, Australia.
The Cleveland community is encouraged to support the competitors and experience the excitement of multisport. Admission to the races is free to all spectators. Volunteer spots are also still available, and those interested may register online.