How Do USA Triathlon’s Rankings Work?

When was the last time you checked your USAT national ranking? 

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If you’re not familiar with USA Triathlon’s national rankings system, here’s the scoop. Each year, if you race three or more USAT-sanctioned triathlons or duathlons, then you are included in USA Triathlon’s national rankings.

The rankings allow you to see where you rank among your fellow age group competitors. Looking for a new goal? Try to beat your ranking from the year before! Moving up to a new age group? See how you stack up! Place in the top 10% of your age group and you’ll earn USA Triathlon All-American honors!

That’s the beauty of the sport—no matter your experience or speed, there are always more goals to chase.

USAT’s annual rankings are one of the benefits of being a USA Triathlon annual member. (Another benefit, is a free Triathlete membership.) Plus, each year, USA Triathlon All-Americans are featured in the spring issue of the USAT magazine—you can see the 2021 All-Americans in the current joint Triathlete-USAT magazine issue on stands now.

USA Triathlon will be celebrating the All-Americans and highlighting the annual national rankings throughout March. Read more below to learn more about USA Triathlon’s annual rankings, and visit USA Triathlon’s rankings page to see your ranking.

So, how does my USAT ranking get calculated?

Short answer: a lot of math.

Now for the longer answer.

USA Triathlon’s rankings system is based on pacesetters to determine a par time for each race. Every race has a unique par time, based on the athletes who competed. Because each race is unique, you may receive a higher score in one race, even if you consider your finish time in another race to be better. Your score is determined by a par time, which is based on the calculated times of the pacesetters.

What are pacesetters?

For the 2021 rankings, the pacesetters used to establish the par times are all athletes who completed the minimum required number of races in 2019. (In usual circumstances, pacesetters are established by the previous year’s worth of racing data, but with the pandemic canceling most racing in 2020, the 2021 rankings relied on 2019 results, the last year that featured a complete season of racing.)

Any athlete who completed the required number of races (three for triathlon and duathlon, two for all other multisport disciplines) in 2019 can influence the par time and overall scores for 2021 races. When results are uploaded by the race directors, each pacesetter will have their race time converted into decimal form. This is necessary as the pacesetters determine the overall par time for a race.

This is calculated by taking their overall score from the previous year, dividing it by 100, and then multiplying that number by their finish time (converted into minutes) for the current race.

This means that if “John” is a pacesetter and he finished a race in 2021 in 1:30:00, we can find his calculated time. If his overall score from last year was 95.234, we would divide it by 100 to get .95234. Then, we multiply that by his finish time, which would be 90 minutes. 90 x .95234 = 85.7106.

How do I get a score for my race?

Everyone’s score for the race is determined by the par time, which is the average calculated time of the middle 60% of the pacesetters. Par time is calculated by dropping the top 20% and bottom 20% of all the pacesetter’s calculated times—only the middle 60% is averaged together. If there are 100 pacesetters in a race, the top 20 and bottom 20 pacesetters are not included, and the remaining 60 pacesetters’ calculated times are averaged together to create the par time.

After the par time for the race is calculated, the time of every participant in the race is compared against the par time. If the par time of John’s race is 80 minutes, and he finished in 90 minutes, his score would be 88.88 (80 / 90 = .88888 x 100 = 88.888).

Now that you know how your score is determined in each race, it is important to know a few other things:

  • For triathlon rankings, your top three scores are averaged to create your final ranking.
  • For duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, or off-road triathlon rankings, your top two scores are averaged for your final ranking.
  • Women receive a 10% “gender grade” in the final rankings. This grade is not included in the pacesetter formula. Women pacesetters are calculated using their raw score (before the 10%).
  • To be included in the final rankings, you must have been an annual member on Dec. 1 of that year. So, for 2021 rankings, you must have been a current member of USA Triathlon on Dec. 1, 2021. The deadline to report corrections to USA Triathlon is Jan. 31 of the following year.

How do I look up my USAT rankings and results for this year?

Click here to visit USA Triathlon’s rankings page and click on “National Rankings” at the top of the ranking page. Here you can look up athlete national rankings based on year, sport, gender, and age group.

You can also look at all your race scores, dating back to 2009, by clicking on “Athlete Results” at the top of the ranking page. In order to view your scores you will need to enter either your USA Triathlon member number or your name.

How are USAT All-Americans selected?

All-American honors are awarded to the top 10% in each age-group. All-Americans are recognized annually in the spring issue of USA Triathlon Magazine. The joint Triathlete-USAT magazine is arriving to members’ houses right now. Check out your USAT ranking for 2021 and good luck with your race season in 2022!

Stephen Meyer is the communications manager for USA Triathlon.

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