A Guide To Triathlon Championship Qualification

Want to race in a triathlon championship? Here’s how to qualify for some of the most prestigious races.

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Want to race in a triathlon championship? Here’s how to qualify for some of the most prestigious races.

Ironman World Championship

Considered the “holy grail” of triathlon, the Ironman World Championship (aka Kona or Ironman Hawaii) is the pinnacle of the sport of triathlon. It takes place each October on the Big Island of Hawaii in the small town of Kailua-Kona and is considered one of the most challenging races in the sport. More than 2,000 athletes from all over the world will be competing on Oct. 11, 2014 in a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run in the blazing heat and brutal winds of Hawaii.

How to qualify:
There are four main ways to gain an entry to the 2014 Ironman World Championship:

1. Athletes can earn a slot at one of the 37 Ironman or five Ironman 70.3 races held around the world. Races are given a specific number of slots, which are tentatively allocated to the different age groups. However, final slot allocation won’t be determined until race day based on the number of official starters in each age group to more accurately represent the actual number of starters in each age category in the race. In order to claim your slot, you must be present at the post-race championship slot allocation and roll-down ceremony, and you must pay the $825 (for 2014) entry fee when you claim your slot. If the automatic qualifier chooses not to claim the slot, does not attend the ceremony, or has already qualified, the next eligible finisher in that age group may claim the slot that has rolled down.

Ironman Races:
Click here to see the list of Ironman races around the globe. Keep in mind that these regional championships offer more qualifying slots, but also tend to be more competitive:
–Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship: Melbourne, Australia, March 22, 2015 (75 slots in 2015)
–Ironman European Championship: Frankfurt, Germany, July 6, 2014 (100 slots in 2014; 75 slots in 2015)
–North American Ironman Championship: Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, Aug. 17, 2014 (75 slots)

Ironman 70.3 Races:
-Ironman 70.3 Mandurah: Western Australia, Nov. 10, 2013 (30 slots)
-Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship: Auckland, New Zealand, Jan. 19, 2014 (30 slots)
-Ironman 70.3 St. Croix: U.S. Virgin Islands, May 4, 2014 (30 slots)
-Ironman 70.3 Hawaii: Kohala Coast, Hawaii, May 31, 2014 (72 total slots including 28 international, 24 Big Island and 20 States slots)
-Ironman 70.3 Eagleman: Cambridge, Md., June 8, 2014 (30 slots)

RELATED PHOTOS: 2013 Ironman World Championship

2. Athletes can be selected through the Ironman Lottery program. The program began in 1983 as a way to provide athletes of all abilities the chance to race in the sport’s premier race. Each year, 100 general age-group athletes are selected to race

Ironman added the Passport Club in 1990 to give athletes an increased chance of being selected through the Lottery. For the 2014 race, registration opened in October and closed Feb. 28, and the winners were announced April 15. The 2014 entry fee was $50 (no refunds or transfers), and each athlete can only register for the Ironman Lottery once per year. However, athletes can also join the Passport Club, giving them an increased chance of being selected (for an extra $50 per calendar year; the more consecutive years you enter the Lottery, the higher your chances of being selected). If you are selected, athletes must complete a branded Ironman or Ironman 70.3 event within on year of the 2014 Ironman World Championship to validate their lottery slot (for the 2014 championship, athletes must validate by Aug. 31, 2014).

3. Athletes can be selected through the Ironman Legacy program. The program was designed to grant loyal Ironman athletes the opportunity to compete in Kona. Every year, 100 Legacy winners are chosen. To enter for the 2014 Ironman World Championship, athletes must have completed a minimum of 12 full-distance Ironman-branded races by Dec. 31, 2013; athlete must have never participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; athlete must have completed at least one full-distance Ironman event in 2012 and 2013; athlete must be registered for a full-distance Ironman event in 2014. Registration opened in October 2013 and closed in February 2014; winners were announced April 15. The Legacy entry fee is $50, and 100 athletes will be chosen. Fully qualified applicants who are not selected for the current year’s program will be put on a wait list for subsequent years’ programs, pending they maintain fully qualified status. About 200 applicants applied for the program last year, but not all were fully qualified. Any athletes not chosen from the Legacy program are put into the Lottery drawing.

4. Athletes can win a slot through the Ironman charitable eBay auction. If you don’t qualify, and you aren’t selected through the Lottery or Legacy programs, Ironman does offer one last chance for four athletes to race Kona every May—but it’ll cost you. The Ironman World Championship eBay Auction sells four slots to the race (the 2014 slots went for $40,300-$51,200 apiece), with 100 percent of the sale going to the Ironman Foundation, which has supported various athletic, community, education, health, human services and public benefit non-profit organizations around the world. Since it began in 2003, the Ironman Foundation has provided more than $28.5 million to support charitable initiatives globally. In order to race, the participating athlete must validate their entry into the world championship by completing one Ironman-branded 70.3 or full-distance Ironman by Aug. 17, 2014.

Learn more at Ironman.com.

RELATED: Getting Into The Ironman World Championship

Ironman 70.3 World Championship

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship was created in 2006 and originally hosted in Clearwater, Fla., until 2011, after which it moved to Lake Las Vegas, Nev., and is now going to rotate to different venues around the world. The 2014 race will be held at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, and the 2015 race will be in Zell am See-Kaprun, Salzburgerland, Austria. More than 1,800 athletes will race the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run.

How to qualify:
The only way to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is by earning a qualifying slot at one of the Ironman 70.3 races held around the world. The roll-down policy works the same as with the Ironman World Championship, and athletes pay for the race when they earn their slot ($400 for the 2014 race). Click here to find a list of the 70+ Ironman 70.3 races worldwide. These regional championships offer more qualifying slots, but tend to be more competitive:

–Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship: Auckland, New Zealand, January TBD 2015 (50 slots)
–South American Ironman 70.3 Championship: Panama City, Panama, TBD 2015 (35 slots)
–Ironman 70.3 St. George U.S. Pro Championship: St. George, Utah, May 2, 2015 (30 slots)
–Ironman 70.3 European Championship: Weisbaden, Germany, Aug. 10, 2014 (100 slots)

Learn more at Ironman.com.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Xterra World Championship

This picturesque yet brutal Xterra off-road race in Maui combines a 1.5K rough-water swim, a 30K mountain bike and 9.5K trail run into what’s described as “a tropical roller-coaster ride through pineapple fields and forests.” The race maxes out at 800 total professional and amateur athletes, and it takes place in late October (Oct. 26, 2014) at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. It’s the final race in a series of almost 100 off-road triathlons held around the world.

How to qualify:
There are four ways for U.S. athletes to race the Xterra World Championship:

1. Finish in one of 47 qualifying spots at any of the four Xterra Regional Championship Series races or the Xterra USA Championship.
Xterra West Championship: Lake Las Vegas, Nev., April 12-13, 2014
Xterra Southeast Championship: Pelham, Ala., May 17-18, 2014
Xterra East Championship: Richmond, Va., June 14-15, 2014
Xterra Mountain Championship: Beaver Creek, Colo., July 19-20, 2014
Xterra USA Championship: Ogden, Utah, Sept. 20-21, 2014

2. Qualify by earning one of 25 slots (one per age group) at the Xterra Freedom Fest race (July 5-6, 2014, in Oahu, Hawaii). The race was designed as a qualifier for Hawaii residents, but non-Hawaii residents may also earn slots at the race.

3. Be selected via the at-large pool by entering online or by mail. To enter the at-large pool, you must register and pay for the race. Slots are offered on a first-come, first-served basis until all slots have been filled. If you aren’t given a slot to race in Maui, your race fee will be refunded.

4. Qualify at one of the Xterra World Tour stops.
The following races offer 41 qualifying slots each:
Xterra South Africa Championship: Grabouw, Western Cape, Feb. 23, 2014
Xterra Philippines Championship: Cebu, March 15, 2014
Xterra Guam Championship: Piti, March 29, 2014
Xterra Saipan Championship: Northern Mariana Islands, April 5, 2014
Xterra Asia-Pacific Championship: Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia, April 26, 2014
Xterra Spain Championship: La Manga-Cartagena, Murcia, May 24, 2014
Xterra Brazil Championship: Ilhabela, SP, June 7, 2014
Xterra Norway: Horten, June 29, 2014
Xterra Switzerland Championship: Vallee de Joux, June 28, 2014
Xterra France Championship: Xonrup, Gerardmmer, July 6, 2014
Xterra Sweden: Stockholm, July 13, 2014
Xterra Mexico Championship: Aug. 2, 2014
Xterra Czech Championship: Prachatice, Aug. 9, 2014
Xterra Germany Championship (ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship): Zittau, Aug. 16, 2014
Xterra Denmark: Tisvilde, Aug. 31, 2014

The following race offers 34 slots:
Xterra New Zealand Championship: Rotorua, April 12, 2014

The following races offer 15 slots each:
Xterra Great Ocean Road: Anglesea, Victoria, Australia, March 30, 2014
Xterra Costa Rica: Playa Reserva Conchal, March 29, 2014
Xterra Malaysia: Putrajaya, May 3, 2014
Xterra Greece: Lake Plastira, June 21, 2014
Xterra Portugal: Golega, June 1, 2014
Xterra Ireland (canceled for 2014)
Xterra Abruzzo: Lago di Scanno, Italy, July 26, 2014
Xterra England: Cranleigh, Surrey, Aug. 24, 2014
Xterra Victoria: British Columbia, Canada, July 6, 2014
Xterra Canmore: Alberta, Canada, Aug. 17, 2014
Xterra Quebec: Lac Delage, Quebec City, Canada, Aug. 31, 2014

The following races offer 14 slots each:
Xterra Motatapu: South Island, New Zealand, March 8, 2014
Xterra Ontario (2014 Canada Cross Tri Championship): Milton, July 5, 2014

The following races offer 6 slots each (three to top three men and women overall):
Xterra Mauritius: Bois Chéri, Mauritius, May 24, 2014
Xterra Sleeping Giant: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, Sept. 7, 2014

Learn more at Xterraplanet.com.

USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

The 2014 Olympic-distance National Championships will take place in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 9. The race, which features a 1500-meter swim, 40K bike and 10K run, rotates among different venues around the U.S. (previous venues include Burlington, Vt.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Portland, Ore.). It’s the only USAT National Championship for which athletes have to meet a strict qualification.

How to qualify:
1. The top 33 percent or top five finishers (whichever is greater) in each age group will qualify at special qualifiers and regional championship races.

The 2014 USA Triathlon Regional Championship races:
South Midwest: Tri Tyler Olympic (March 30, Tyler, Texas)
Southwest: Silicon Valley International Triathlon (April 20, Morgan Hill, Calif.)
Florida: St. Anthony’s Triathlon (April 27, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Southeast: Memphis in May Triathlon (May 18, Memphis, Tenn.)
–Mideast: USA Triathlon Mideast Regional Championship (June 14, Grass Lake, Mich.)
–Northeast: The Massachusetts State Triathlon (July 13, Winchendon, Mass.)
–Rocky Mountain: Boulder Peak Triathlon (July 13, Boulder, Colo.)
–Midwest: Omaha Triathlon (July 20, Omaha, Neb.)
–Mid-Atlantic: New Jersey State Triathlon (July 20, West Windsor, N.J.)
–Pacific Northwest: Portland Triathlon (Sept. 21, Portland, Ore.) – qualifier for 2015 nationals
The 2014 USA Triathlon Special Qualifiers:
Mid-Atlantic: Rock Hall Triathlon (May 31, Rock Hall, Md.)
–Mideast: Leon’s Triathlon (June 1, Hammond, Ind.)
–Midwest: Lake Geode Challenge (July 21, Danville, Iowa)
–Rocky Mountain: Echo Triathlon (July 12, Coalville, Utah)

2. A non-championship USAT-sanctioned event in one of the specified qualifying distances will qualify the top 10 percent or top finisher (whichever is greater) in each age group. Qualifying distances include: sprint, intermediate/Olympic, long (half-iron) and ultra (full iron) distance on-road and all off-road triathlons. (Qualification can no longer be met in duathlon, aquathlon or aquabike categories.) You must qualify in the age group category of a race (not in an elite, open, Athena, Clydesdale, etc., category), and qualification is based on where the athlete finishes in his/her age group. For the 2014 race, you can qualify at any USAT-sanctioned event beginning July 10, 2013, and ending Aug. 1, 2014. Visit Usatriathlon.org to find USAT-sanctioned races.

3. Athletes can automatically qualify. The top 33 percent or top 10 (whichever is greater) athletes in each age group at the USAT Sprint, Olympic Distance and Long Course Triathlon National Championships in the current and/or previous year automatically qualify. Any athlete who has competed as a member of the 2013 Team USA in Sprint, Olympic or Long Course Triathlon will automatically qualify. All-Americans from the 2013 USAT National Rankings automatically qualify.

Once you’ve qualified for a race, you will receive an email from USAT indicating your official qualification. After receiving the automatic email, you’ll receive a VIP email invitation the next business day with a registration link.

2014 USA Triathlon Clydesdale and Athena National Championships:
Earlier this week, USA Triathlon announced that a standalone Clydesdale and Athena National Championship will be held in 2014 for the first time. The race will be held in conjunction with the Tri Arkansas International Distance Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 16 in DeGrey Lake, Ark. Athletes vying for national titles will complete a 1,500-meter swim, 39K bike and 10K run. On Aug. 17, the DeGrey Lake Sprint Triathlon will be held at the same venue and will serve as the 2014 USAT Clydesdale and Athena Sprint National Championships, featuring a 500-yard swim, 16-mile bike and 3.5-mile run. Find out more at Usatriathlon.org/usatca14.

If you don’t qualify:
You can still partake in the Age Group National Championships weekend by participating in the Sprint National Championships, which take place Aug. 10, 2014, at the same Milwaukee venue. There are no qualification standards—it’s open to all athletes. However, U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals can qualify to represent Team USA at the 2015 ITU Sprint Course Triathlon World Championship, to be held in Chicago, Ill. There will be 18 slots on Team USA available per age group, with slots rolling down to 25th place after the age-up rule. The age-up rule means that athletes will be racing at the 2014 national championships based on their age as of Dec. 31, 2014, but if they will be moving up into another age group in 2015, the athlete’s time will be compared to the age group that they would be in in 2015 (e.g., if John Doe will be 49 years old as of Dec. 31, 2014, he will age-up into the 50-54 age group for the 2015 world championships since he’ll be 50 by Dec. 31, 2015; so his time at the qualification event will be compared to men currently in the 50-54 age group).

RELATED PHOTOS: 2013 USAT Age Group Nationals – Olympic Distance

Learn more at Usatriathlon.org.

ITU Triathlon Short Course World Championship

The ITU Triathlon World Championship Grand Final will take place in Edmonton, Canada, in late August 2014, and in Chicago, Ill. in 2015. Every athlete must qualify through his or her own national federation.

How to qualify:
The 2014 Olympic Distance National Championship will qualify athletes to compete for Team USA at the 2015 ITU Short Course Triathlon World Championship (similarly, athletes can qualify for the sprint world championship and long course world championship through USAT national championships). There will be 18 slots on Team USA available per age group, with slots rolling down to 25th place. All athletes eligible to represent the United States must be a U.S. citizen or be a U.S. national.

For more information, visit Triathlon.org.

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.