With 2024 set to see the first full run-through of the freshly-launched XTERRA Youth Tour, here’s what to know about the new global youth series designed to nurture the next generation of XTERRA World Champions.
With the XTERRA World Cup now driving the development of off-road tri at the professional level, 2024 is set to see the launch of a new initiative from XTERRA that will pave the way for the next generation of age group athletes, elites, and eventual XTERRA World Champions through a globally connected series aimed at nurturing and showcasing the rising talent of XTERRA’s young athletes.
Designed as a natural stepping stone to the Full Distance races of the XTERRA World Tour, the Youth Tour will largely mirror the World Tour format by standardising and connecting the Sprint and Super Sprint Triathlon races at nearly 40 events around the world, and rewarding top performing youth athletes with the opportunity to compete at the highest level at the first-ever XTERRA Youth World Championship in Italy next year.
Porter Middaugh, the youngest of the Middaugh dynasty who recently finished 5th overall at the 2023 USA Champs at only 17 years old, is just one example of the many young athletes who begin their triathlon journey on a mountain bike but soon find themselves without a competitive off-road series, and with no other option but to go on-road. The Youth Tour aims to fill this void, providing a structured off-road triathlon series for athletes aged 14-19, and a clear path for those looking to progress within the sport of cross-triathlon
In order to align with World Triathlon and the majority of national federations, the XTERRA Youth Tour will feature 3 age divisions: Youth A, Youth B, and Junior.
Athletes aged 14-15 will be placed in the Youth A division, where both qualifying and championship races will be conducted using the Super Sprint distance, consisting of a maximum 400m swim, 8K bike, and a 2K run. The Youth B division, encompassing athletes aged 16-17, will see both qualifying and championship races held at the Sprint distance, featuring a maximum 750m swim, 15K bike, and a 5K run. The oldest division within the Youth Tour is the Junior division, including athletes aged 18-19, where both qualifying and championship races will also take place within the Sprint distance limits.
All XTERRA athletes, including those in the Youth Tour, are categorised based on their age on December 31st in the year of the race to ensure athletes start and finish the season within the same division. Although not all qualifying events will feature both the Sprint and Super Sprint distances due to logistical reasons, the XTERRA Youth World Championship will showcase both distances with the fastest male and female in all 3 divisions crowned as the reigning XTERRA Youth World Champions.
The Youth Tour slot system mirrors that of the World Tour, treating every race as a qualifying race with top-performing athletes within each of the divisions awarded with slots to the XTERRA Youth World Championship.
Sprint distance races listed on the Youth Tour schedule will award Youth World Championship slots to the top-5 male and top-5 female finishers in both the Junior and Youth B divisions, while Super Sprint races will award the top-5 male and top-5 female finishers with their slot to the World Youth Champs. However, unlike the World Tour, there will be no roll-down system for those falling just outside of the top-5 bracket.
But with the Youth Tour still in its growth stage, other paths are available for those unable to make it to a qualifying event to take part in what will be the biggest youth races in XTERRA history when the Youth World Championship debuts in Italy next year. Athletes that are unable to qualify directly can still apply for a wild card entry using recent cross-triathlon or duathlon results (more on that here), taking the opportunity to go up against international competition and share the stage with world’s best elite and age group athletes at the XTERRA World Championship.
The annual XTERRA Youth World Championship will be held alongside XTERRA Worlds, allowing young athletes to witness off-road triathlon at its highest level and experience the global XTERRA community firsthand, while also providing an international spotlight for those rising through the junior ranks.
2024 will be the first-ever XTERRA Youth World Championship to be held when the season finale heads to Italy for the third and final time, meaning the first to wear the crown will earn it beneath the Brenta Dolomites next year.
Those having qualified for the 2024 XTERRA World Championship will take centre stage on Saturday, September 23, before taking their turn on the sidelines to cheer on the next generation of champions as the Youth World Championship unfolds on Sunday, September 24.
More information on the event, including the youth championship races, can be found on the 2024 XTERRA World Championship page.
The Youth Tour is set to begin at the opening event of the 2024 XTERRA season in the Elgin Valley of South Africa, where the very first slots to the inaugural XTERRA Youth World Championship will be earned. From there the tour will wind through all 3 regions, with the EMEA region also hosting races in Morocco, Malta, Greece, France, Portugal, UK, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. APAC will host events in New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, and Japan, while the Americas will test athletes through the varied terrains of the USA, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Columbia.
The Youth Tour has been a long time coming, and serves as one of the most important milestones in the 27 years since the inception of cross-tri on the shores of Maui. XTERRA now has a path for the champions of tomorrow who right now are looking up to the champions of today. Be it those on the sidelines who witnessed what it means to Arthur Serrières and Solenne Billouin, those who felt inspired by the achievements of family, or those who just live for the experience on taking on what’s in front of them in the raw and rugged way only nature can serve up. 2024 will mark the year the Youth Tour finally arrived for the next generation to push the level of what is possible in the sport of cross-triathlon, and to carry the torch of the XTERRA spirit.
To learn more, visit the XTERRA Youth Tour page.
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