Proper Youth Race Distances
By Justin Trolle
In the sport of triathlon, we are blessed to have a variety of races that are available to us both in type and in duration. With this level of variety comes some level of confusion not for ourselves but for our children and/or the kids we train. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent or a coach, we are all proud of the developing athletes with whom we work. These athletes trust us and rely on us to help them make the decisions that will guide their future in the sport. With this trust comes responsibility, and it becomes very important that the decisions that we make are in the best interest of these developing athletes and not a product of our own ambitions. We all understand the concept of parents living their dreams through their children or coaches whose own ambition takes precedent over the needs of the athlete. However, by doing this we do a disservice to those we got involved in the sport to help, the kids.
If as a parent or coach you are looking at setting race distances for your children or athletes, you should take the following into account:
- Never put an athlete into a race that is longer than they will be actually able to race. By this I mean don’t put developing athletes into races that they are just there to say 'I did the distance and finished.'
- Age limits – while there are no labeled age limits for athletes doing endurance events, try to use this as a guide when picking age appropriate races for your athletes:
- 7-10 years old – 50-100m Swim / 2-3km bike / 100m-1km run
- 11-12 years old – 200m Swim / 5-7km bike / 2km run
- 12-15 years old – Super Sprint ≤ 500m Swim / 10km bike / 3km run
- 15-18 years old – Sprint Distance ≤ 750m Swim / 20km bike / 5km run
- 18-23 years old – Olympic Distance ≤ 1500m Swim / 40km bike /10km run
So remember, next time you are preparing your athlete/child for an event what the long-term goals are and put the child's developmental needs before your own ego. If you can do this you will get far more respect from your peers as well as better results from your athletes.