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** How To Qualify Next Year ?**.
Team GB Age Group Results for the European Duathlon Championships (Limerick, 2011) are just being put on the web as I write. Lots of awesome performances and many well deserved qualification places.
I seem to have been a bit ‘jammy’ in my qualification this year for both the European Duathlon Championships and the World Duathlon Championships (Gijon, 2011). There could be some people a bit better than me who might be missing out. Still I guess your qualification strategy is as important as your race strategy. So I’ll take the place!
Firstly a point of order: Gijon is pronounced something like Hee-Hon and not Gee-John. But I digress.
Firstly you MUST understand the qualification criteria. If you are reading this you will probably already have digested the qualification criteria on the British Triathlon website so I won’t repeat it verbatim. But if you have not digested and understood it then, briefly, there are 4 world (3 Euro) qualification races. To qualify for the European Championships you have to be within 120% of your Qualifying Race Age Group Winner’s times (regardless of whether or not they intend to qualify) and it’s the same for the World’s except the figure is 115%. Based on earlier performances some people also pre-qualify but you people already understand the rules. A word of warning: the effective qualifying percentage in some age groups is about 110%.
Other countries have different criteria I think, for example, that Ireland does not have the 115%/120% figures but otherwise is similar; whereas the USA I think invites applications for top20 National finishers and then operates rolldown to choose two per age group.
Back to GB. If there are more than 20 entrants trying to qualify that year in a specific Age Group then you have a further problem as it is not necessarily sufficient JUST to achieve the %age target. You have to either be one of the top 3 World Qualifier finishers (4 Euro) of those who intend to qualify or, failing that, have the best %age figures of the rest to seal the place (places are allocated ‘by rolldown’ with the best %age being offered the place first).
So, if there are less than 20 entrants in your age group then your qualification strategy SIMPLY boils down to which race(s) you want to try to hit the qualification mark. It’s that simple and this certainly applies to MOST Age Groups.
HOWEVER: For the competitive (in terms of number of entrants) Age Groups then you will have to qualify better than some of those hoping to do the same as you. So you will probably be trying to figure out which race will the winning time that is the slowest so that your %age time will be the highest. Or you will try to enter races where there are not many good competitors in your Age Group. But these strategies will be considered by everyone else!
This year (this year only) was also further complicated by the late introduction of joint qualification races for a Sprint Duathlon event AND two qualification races being for both the Worlds and Euros AND by one World’s qualifier being on the same day as the European Championship. Even the less sharp eyed amongst you would have seen some opportunities for an apparently easier qualification route here. However I suspect it was not so straightforward looking back.
Here is a quick recap on the 2011 races for qualification to either Euro or World Championships and my take on them lining to a qualification strategy of sorts:
Oulton Park – Qualify for both Worlds and Euros at the same event – surely this event would attract the better riders/runners who want to qualify in one go? Well maybe but then again the better runners and riders will know about punctures and will know about cramp or wind or having a bad day. So the better people will have a plan and also a backup. Maybe then Oulton Park is more Northerly and so many of us from the South would not go there – that seems to be true to an extent but, for example, Oulton was my backup that Ihad to use. Also Oulton Park was on Mother’s day and that surely accounted for a few no-shows. Maybe a slightly hilly run and ride would deter some? Maybe. But then again it’s the same for everyone.
Clumber Park – National Championships. World & Euro Qualifier. Hilly but central in the country but DEFINATELY attracts the better runners and riders! If you were to choose one race this would only be a wise choice if you have a chance of a top 4 finish.
Cambridge – World’s qualifier, the last one, also on the same day as the Euro Championships in Limerick. Surely a good chance to qualify as the best people will be at the Euros? Well no. I suspect not many of the good Duathletes were at the European Championships this year – as that event seems to be hld in slightly lwoer esteem than the World Championships! Many of the really good duathletes just go to the Worlds and not the Euros. But of course medal winners at the European Championships by definition are good athletes (I’m not one…yet?). With Cambridge also being flat then there are some people who will really nail their times on the bike and maybe where good aero/tri cycling kit could have more of an influence.
Emberton (Big Cow MK) – The first in the year and a wee bit cold. Euro Qualifier. A flat run but fairly hilly and bumpy bike leg. This was probably the easiest one in hindsight to qualify at the Euros this year. But of course everyone now knows this and I suspect everyone will try to qualify on this next year because it is supposedly easier. So again the benefit of hindsight is great but it might not help you in 2012 (when the qualifiers will be changed anyway).
Dambuster (Rutland) – Pretty similar to Emberton in terms of flatness for the run and hilliness for the ride. World Qualifier.
My strategy was: Qualify ASAP for the Euros, which I did at Emberton. However I felt a bit guilty at getting a place as I had to stop running for 2 minutes because of cramp! So I felt I earned my place at Dambuster. HOWEVER when I was there I realised that there was an outside chance of World qualification so I tried again for Gijon at Oulton and did it; again with cramp. Well I did it in terms of the 115% time. With the introduction of the sprint distance I decided to switch my application prior to Oulton to the Sprint Event (allowed only this year, 2011) my reasoning being that shorter distances are definitely my strength. Those who switched did not know how many others had done the same until after the deadline for declaring an interest at Oulton.
On to the Euro champs (Limerick) and I did pleasingly well with a middle of the field finish. Then post-Limerick (and post-Cambridge at the same time) it transpires that I would have qualified at the standard distance. It’s all a moot point now as I only entered for the Sprint – although it was possible to enter for both which some people did. That tactic would be an excellent fall-back. Hopefully a good Gijon finish position within the GB team can be achieved by me in September. Back to the bike I think and I’ll endeavour to get into that elusive top gear with the cadence going!