What are the Age Groups in a Triathlon Race?

Triathlon Event  I am considering doing my first triathlon.  My question is: What are the typical age groups?

Robert from Tennessee

Triathlon Event  Hi Robert,
Thank you for contacting and thanks for writing such a great question!

Congratulations on deciding to do your first race, and YES, sprint, olympic, mini, and other triathlons are divided into age groups. There is not one universal answer, as some races change the age groups slightly, but below are the most common age groupings you will see at the typical race:

  • ELITE MALES — This “age group” is not an age group at all.  Instead, it is for racers who feel they are at the very top of the triathlon game.  You probably do not need to worry about this unless you expect to finish in the top 2-3% of all finishers.
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 19 – UNDER (sometimes they break this category down into 15- under and 16-19)
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  • MALE AGE GROUP: 20 – 24
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 25 – 29
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 30 – 34
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 35 – 39
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 40 – 44
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 45 – 49
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 50 – 54
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 55 – 59
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 60 – 64
  • MALE AGE GROUP: 65 – OVER (some have 65-69 and 70 – over)
  • NEWBIE MALES  (not all events have this although we think they should)
  • CLYDESDALES  (men with weight exceeding 200 lbs…. you can “opt-in”, you don’t have to be in this division if you are over 200 lbs.)
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 19 – UNDER (sometimes they break this category down into 15- under and 16-19)
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 20 – 24
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 25 – 29
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 30 – 34
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 35 – 39
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 40 – 44
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 45 – 49
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 50 – 54
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 55 – 59
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 60 – 64
  • FEMALE AGE GROUP: 65 – OVER (some have 65-69 and 70 – over)
  • NEWBIE FEMALE WINNERS (not all events have this although we think they should)
  • ATHENA FEMALES (weight exceeding 145 lbs, again you can opt-in or simply race in your age group.  Whatever you prefer.)

We realize that you didn’t need to know the female age groups, as you are a man competing as a man, but we thought it would be helpful when we posted this question online for everyone to read.  Note that the governing body of triathlon in the US, the USAT, has published its guidelines on age groups as well.

Other Groups, Besides Age-Based

In most races, you will also see various classes for teams and relays.  Note that the Elite, Clydesdale, and Athena groups are all intended to be “opt-in”.  You sign up to be in those classes if you want.  Why would someone want to be in the Clydesdale division?  Because it allows you to race against other racers your own size.  You might be a 210 lb man in great shape, but your frame and size put you at a disadvantage against the wispy 170 lb man who is in your age group.

We also see some races featuring a separate wave or group for first-time triathletes.  This is a nice concept as first-timers and newbies might be a bit more nervous before the race, but in our judgment it doesn’t make much sense. Quickly into the race, the newbies will be mixing with all other racers.  New certainly does not always mean slow!

Finer Points of Age Grouping

Note that most races ask you to sign-up in the age group which matches your age on the day of the race.  For example, you might be 30 on the day you sign up for a race in January, but by race day in June you could very well be 31.  In that case, you sign-up as a 31-year-old.

In a race series (which only applies to a few people), you typically sign-up for the age that you will be at the end of the series.  You might be 49 when the series begins, but if you will be 50 by the time the series concludes, you typically will be compared against the other 50-year-olds.

Hope this helps!  As you are new to the sport, don’t miss a few of our other popular articles for beginners, such as: Recommended Resources:

There are Newbies Starting Triathlons Every Day. Today Just Happens to be YOUR Day!