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Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups?
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Why doesn’t Triathlon have categories like bike racing does? It would allow many more AGers to actually “race” rather than just finish, and there’s a place for people with different experiences and volumes of training to participate and not get tailed off the back.

Some other threads are going on about the future of tri, one-and-done people who don't seem motivated to go faster, etc. Wouldn't this help change the "finisher" culture to a "race" culture and be good for the sport?

Also, some are talking about how it seems pretty exorbitant to pay USAT for what we’re getting now, but if they (or someone) managed the "upgrade points" and facilitated a competitive structure like this, I’d see a lot more value there.

For example, Olympic distance might be structured something like:
Pro
Cat 1 - winner goes 2hr or sub
Cat 2 - winner goes ~2:15
Cat 3 - winner goes ~2:30
Cat 4 - winner goes ~2:45
Cat 5 - winner goes ~3:00
Just a suggestion to start the conversation, I'm sure others will have different opinions. But think about how much more room there is for competition in a structure like that. And hey, it makes it make sense for AGers of all speeds to spend more $$$ on a few seconds of aero gains...

And for the older folks, there can still be Masters categories etc. Seems like cycling has this figured out, so what am I missing here?
Last edited by: fumanchu282: Mar 12, 19 15:54
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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There already has been several discussions (threads, use the search function!) on this topic already but you should know that trying to classify by time is the worst possible idea when it comes to this.

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2019: 70.3 Canada, 70.3 WC, IMLou
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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Nope. Completely disagree with the premise and the thought that this would be good for the sport.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [hadukla] [ In reply to ]
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I'm not suggesting the cutoffs are time-based, I'm suggesting how fast the field might be in each category. You still start at Cat 5 and work your way up by competing in more events and winning your category.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [HuffNPuff] [ In reply to ]
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care to elaborate? why would a "finisher" culture be better than a competitive culture?

the status quo right now is Average Joe does a triathlon, comes in between MOP and DFL, and maybe does a few more until their limited training schedule allows them to top out somewhere. then what? keep competing for middle of your AG? no wonder people eventually bow out.

the alternative would be to work your way up through Cat 5, to some middle-category, and be able to actually compete against people the whole time. if you decide you don't want to be competitive versus others, don't keep track of your upgrade points and keep racing Cat 5 or some sort of Open category. but maybe you like the competition, and work your way in to progressively faster categories and keep competing
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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In one specific flat, wind & current protected, accurately measured course, perhaps.

808 > NYC > PDX
2019: 70.3 Canada, 70.3 WC, IMLou
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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Seems like cycling has this figured out, so what am I missing here?

———

And maybe just maybe tri has it figured out too. Even though I think the cat system is a better “competitive” process but I also think the current system actually works well.

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Last edited by: B_Doughtie: Mar 11, 19 14:14
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [hadukla] [ In reply to ]
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hadukla wrote:
In one specific flat, wind & current protected, accurately measured course, perhaps.

seems like you're envisioning something different than what I'm proposing.
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Re: Why does triathlon divide up by Age Groups instead of Categories? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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fumanchu282 wrote:
what am I missing here?

At least in theory, most triathlon events are fairly time-trial-ish. So outside of psychological effects, being blown off the back or effortlessly going off the front doesn't affect the activity.

Bicycle racing is mostly draft-legal mass-start, and drafting has a huge physical effect on how races are raced and how they unfold. Pairing riders together by ability is necessary for the activity to be what it is.

Suppose there's a road bicycle race with a 1/2 field and a 3/4/5 field, doing the same course with the same distance. And suppose the 3/4/5 field decides to go nuts and hammer the whole time, while the 1/2 field saves everything for the bunch sprint at the end, and the result is that the 1/2 field ends up with a lower average speed than the 3/4/5 field. The higher speed of the 3/4/5 race doesn't make its result more prestigious or impressive than the 1/2 race, because the 3/4/5 winner didn't have to beat the 1/2 field at the line.

But in a time-trial-ish event, if a cat-4 goes faster than a cat-2, the cat-4 result is more impressive and prestigious. That they were only a cat-4 is totally irrelevant to how good their result is.

Obviously this is fairly muddled in the real world, especially getting into draft-legal races. But, more category types and granularity means more cost and complexity for race directors, so there needs to be very good reason for it.
Last edited by: HTupolev: Mar 11, 19 14:16
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [B_Doughtie] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah I have no issues with the current system either and am glad to see more races doing first timer/beginner/non-competitive wave.

Nothing like getting scared away being run over in the swim your first race.

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Formerly Draketriathlon
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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I think it would be good for draft legal triathlon in that you would foster more strategic racing when grouping athletes of similar ability. Bike racing has categories specifically because riding with similar caliber riders creates better action.

But for non-draft legal racing...I'm not sure there is a huge benefit. At the end of the day, you still know where you finished as an individual assuming you didn't cheat by drafting. Are you going to race differently because you know you're racing in a category vs an age group? And bunching together similar speed athletes sort of creates an opportunity for more packs to form on the bike and more people to complain that they had no choice but to draft.
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Re: Why does triathlon divide up by Age Groups instead of Categories? [HTupolev] [ In reply to ]
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HTupolev wrote:
... suppose the 3/4/5 field decides to go nuts and hammer the whole time, while the 1/2 field saves everything for the bunch sprint at the end, and the result is that the 1/2 field ends up with a lower average speed than the 3/4/5 field. The higher speed of the 3/4/5 race doesn't make its result more prestigious or impressive than the 1/2 race, because the 3/4/5 winner didn't have to beat the 1/2 field at the line.

But in a time-trial-ish event, if a cat-4 goes faster than a cat-2, the cat-4 result is more impressive and prestigious. That they were only a cat-4 is totally irrelevant to how good their result is.

makes sense. but if the cat-4 goes faster than the cat-2, he's going to be earning upgrade points and moving up, while the cat-2 isn't.

HTupolev wrote:
...Obviously this is fairly muddled in the real world, especially getting into draft-legal races. But, more category types and granularity means more cost and complexity for race directors, so there needs to be very good reason for it.

here's one example: if you wanted to do some sort of Super League style event for AGers, how are you going to make it fun for anyone other than the top few guys and gals?
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [Grant.Reuter] [ In reply to ]
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Grant.Reuter wrote:
Yeah I have no issues with the current system either and am glad to see more races doing first timer/beginner/non-competitive wave.

Nothing like getting scared away being run over in the swim your first race.

this seems like an argument in favor of what i'm suggesting, if anything. that first timer/beginner/non-competitive wave can go off in sequence with the Category waves...
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [hadukla] [ In reply to ]
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I totally agree that I would rather race a cat based system. But I came from bike racing.
The one thing I would disagree with, is that USAC impedes people moving up too often. I was a Cat 1 MTB racer, and rode and trained with C1/2 road racers, but I was not a sprinter and lived in a place that was ruled by flat crits, I did not place high in sprints and thus could never get an upgrade beyond a 3(I just used road as training for MTB and Cross so it did not bother me too much, but I know others who hated it). I know they do that because they don't want a guy with no bike handling to go hop in the c1/2 race.
Of course with Triathlon you would essentially just be basing results off of individual time trials; so maybe the system would work better.
Also in the cycling your race duration is often a result of your category. Could you imagine a world where Cats are eliminated as you go up in distance? Like if you want to race an Ironman you have to be a Cat3 or above. It would never happen, but makes you think about what that could do to get people racing more events.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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fumanchu282 wrote:
Grant.Reuter wrote:
Yeah I have no issues with the current system either and am glad to see more races doing first timer/beginner/non-competitive wave.

Nothing like getting scared away being run over in the swim your first race.


this seems like an argument in favor of what i'm suggesting, if anything. that first timer/beginner/non-competitive wave can go off in sequence with the Category waves...

I'm not apposed to beginner waves to make the swim safer. But in terms of placing, you're assuming that people would have increased motivation to race by a category system rather than an AG system.

Couple of examples in non draft triathlon.

1. You're a novice 38 year old male. Out of 1000 participants, you finish 725th overall and 68th out of 80 in M35-39. But in a "Cat 5" field, you finish 38th out of 200. Would this be more motivating? Maybe. But at the end of the day, you're still 725th...right? Can you not simply use that as a barometer? Shoot for top 600 next time? Top 400 by next year?

2. You're an experienced 58 year old male. Out of 1000 participants, you finish 48th overall, and 3rd in M55-59. But in a "Cat 1" field, you finish 48th out of 200. Would this not have the opposite effect as example #1 if AG or Category awards are supposed to be a motivating factor?

Seems like a situation where you have to pick one or the other...and neither is really "better" in terms of a non-draft legal format where you won't change your racing strategy based on what division you're racing in.

Again, the reason why cycling uses categories for mass start races is because of drafting. When you group similar ability riders together, those riders can ride together and feel like they are "part of the race" for a longer period of time before things break up. It also fosters more dynamic racing rather than simply riding away from people who are of similar age...but not near the same fitness.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [B_Doughtie] [ In reply to ]
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B_Doughtie wrote:
Seems like cycling has this figured out, so what am I missing here?

Yep. And what is the only truly growing cycling format? Gran Fondo/gravel events. Where they don't race as categories.

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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [brider] [ In reply to ]
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brider wrote:
B_Doughtie wrote:
Seems like cycling has this figured out, so what am I missing here?

Yep. And what is the only truly growing cycling format? Gran Fondo/gravel events. Where they don't race as categories.

Ah, this was what I was going to mention. Gravel seems to be the biggest and fastest growing events and it’s all age based. It’s all about that old man podium!

_______________________________________________
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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At a 2:14 Oly distance athlete I'm going to finish last in just about every event I do while racing against many people 20 years younger than me.

That's going to encourage me to keep racing?
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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fumanchu282 wrote:
Why doesn’t Triathlon have categories like bike racing does? It would allow many more AGers to actually “race” rather than just finish, and there’s a place for people with different experiences and volumes of training to participate and not get tailed off the back.

Some other threads are going on about the future of tri, one-and-done people who don't seem motivated to go faster, etc. Wouldn't this help change the "finisher" culture to a "race" culture and be good for the sport?

Also, some are talking about how it seems pretty exorbitant to pay USAT for what we’re getting now, but if they (or someone) managed the "upgrade points" and facilitated a competitive structure like this, I’d see a lot more value there.

For example, Olympic distance might be structured something like:
Pro
Cat 1 - winner goes 2hr or sub
Cat 2 - winner goes ~2:15
Cat 3 - winner goes ~2:30
Cat 4 - winner goes ~2:45
Cat 5 - winner goes ~3:00
Just a suggestion to start the conversation, I'm sure others will have different opinions. But think about how much more room there is for competition in a structure like that. And hey, it makes it make sense for AGers of all speeds to spend more $$$ on a few seconds of aero gains...

And for the older folks, there can still be Masters categories etc. Seems like cycling has this figured out, so what am I missing here?

Why not be like American Ninja Warrior. 1 group that includes every-one, men, women, young and old. Shy of that - anything else is arbitrary. Triathlon is not cycling and shouldn't be.

There is plenty of "racing" as it stands now. Those in the front race each other regardless of their age. Those that are a bit older race each other for the age group. Plenty of competition. The really young and really old like to see how they stack up against each other.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [B.McMaster] [ In reply to ]
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It needs to be 2 categories, with kids, without kids. When someone tells me how well some guy/girl is going, my first question is, do they have kids.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [zedzded] [ In reply to ]
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I think categories would be a great idea. Only a very very small % of age groupers will ever be at the pointy end to be competitive so unless you are content with competing against yourself once the novelty of finishing has worn off there is little incentive to continue. If you could get towards the pointy end of a category with a chance of podium before moving onto the next category it would be awesome, so much more incentive!
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [fumanchu282] [ In reply to ]
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Interesting topic. I come from a road bike racing background with Cat 1/2/3/4 (and 5 for men). However there were also masters categories as well: 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, etc....if I remember the age brackets correctly (this is over 20 years ago). I worked my way up to cat 1 from 4. But I was also in my mid to late 20s and much better on a bike back then. Since I'm a lot older now I do like the age-group categories. But what if you are a masters athlete (pro-ager type) who can still easily qualify for a pro-card? Should this person race as a pro or Cat 1 in this proposed scenario? Heck if I was good enough to obtain a pro card at my age I'd rather be a low/mid level pro or Cat 1 than sand-bagging the age-groupers.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [dunno] [ In reply to ]
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Cat racing would be awesome, age group is a bit boring to be honest. You have people who have been doing the sport for 20 years competing against people new to the sport, not very sporting at all.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [dunno] [ In reply to ]
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In addition to have kids, should also have a works full time with kids category. Nothing like a full time age grouper - no kids not working with a heap of sponsors dominating the amateur ranks! plenty of them out there.
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Re: Wouldn't triathlon be better with Cat 1/2/3/4/5 instead of Age Groups? [zedzded] [ In reply to ]
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zedzded wrote:
It needs to be 2 categories, with kids, without kids. When someone tells me how well some guy/girl is going, my first question is, do they have kids.

Well - my older son and I raced a lot while he was in junior high and high school. A few years ago he came in 4'th twice. I beat him both times. I guess having kids makes you faster?
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