I began racing triathlons in 2014. I had competed in swimming, running and biking events individually over several years, so when a friend suggested entering a local super sprint I signed up on a whim. I was in decent biking and running shape – I had just completed the MS150 and was easing back into running after an injury. However, I hadn’t swam seriously since high school. In fact the last time I swam laps was at least a year earlier and all I could remember was how much my lats hurt for days after.
I ended up placing 4th in my age group at this cold and intense race. Doing this event helped me to realize that I really enjoyed being back in a racing environment. The excitement of the people cheering and the fast pace of things was a reminder of all the years I spent doing competitive swimming and rowing. It was safe to say that I’d “caught the bug”.
A few months later I signed up for my first IRONMAN 70.3 in Austin. This was a challenging race that I stuck through to the finish. You can read more about my experience there in my IRONMAN Austin 70.3 race report.
This was by far the largest triathlon I had ever participated in. My nerves got the best of me, as they often do for first-timers, and I spent the night obessively checking my gear and not sleeping. There were over 300 athletes in my 30-34 mens age group alone. This put me in the 3rd wave of my age group and the second to last wave to start for the entire race field. I had over an hour from when the pros started the race to the start of my wave.
As I was waiting to start, I noticed a few people in AWA swim caps that were not the same as mine and wondered what they were. It wasn’t a team cap, they all said IRONMAN on them. I overheard two guys speaking about it and how you can qualify with the scoring of your top three IRONMAN races or being fast enough to be a top finisher at an event. Either way it was a tough accomplishment. Whether you had one race or all three you had to be in the top 10% of everyone in your age group who participated in an IRONMAN event that calendar year. I decided then that this was a goal I would like to achieve.
The program uses IRONMAN’s Age Group Rankings system to determine which athletes have finished within the top 10 percent or better of their age group each calendar year. Within this system, athletes generate points based on their finish time behind the first official finisher in their age group. Athletes accumulate points at every race they complete, but on December 31st, only their top three performances will count toward their All World Athlete status. This makes it easy for athletes to improve their ranking simply by racing more with IRONMAN.
An athlete can achieve All World Athlete status in one or all of the following categories: IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3 and OVERALL (IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, IRONMAN 5i50, Life Time Tri International and Sprint distances). There are three levels associated with the All World Athlete program:
GOLD (top one percent)
SILVER (top five percent)
BRONZE (top ten percent)
This is the first year that I’ve qualified in the overall category. I’m not the fastest racer, but I am proud of the accomplishments I’ve made in training and the improvements I’ve made in speed and endurance on the race course. In a single event, full or half, I don’t qualify. In the overall category, which combines the total points of all race types, I qualified as Bronze Level for the 2016 race year. My results at Ironman Texas 70.3 (Galveston) and Ironman Texas put me into the top 10% of all Ironman finishers in my age group.
For 2017 I’m currently only signed up for one 70.3 and intend to complete another full as well. I’ll be racing in the 35-39 age group, which has some heavy competition. The plan is to work hard to improve and do my best to keep my AWA qualification.