Athletes will race on a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course to national championship titles in six different paratriathlon categories, as well as Team USA spots for the 2012 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships.
To qualify for Paratriathlon Nationals, athletes must have completed a sprint triathlon in two hours, or an Olympic-distance triathlon in four hours.
In addition to the national championship event, a number of athletes will participate in the Physically Challenged Open Wave, which is open to paratriathletes of all levels but does not qualify athletes for national titles or world championship slots.
In order to qualify for Team USA for the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, on Oct. 22, athletes must finish in the top three of their respective paratriathlon category in Austin. When team size is set for the world championship event by ITU, more athletes may be added to the team by discretionary selections. Visit usatriathlon.org for more information on the qualification process.
Additionally, the top finisher in each category will also earn a spot on the USA Paratriathlon National Team for 2012. Paratriathlon Nationals is the first event of the three-race 2012 USA Paratriathlon Race Series, which also features the Denver Triathlon on June 10 and the Nickel City Triathlon on Sept. 16 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Interest in paratriathlon is at an all-time high and the sport continues to grow following its inclusion in the Paralympic Games program. The International Paralympic Committee announced in December 2010 that paratriathlon will make its debut at the Paralympic Summer Games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Photo Credit: Melissa Stockwell is one of 11 defending national champions racing in Austin on Monday (Ben Solomon/USA Triathlon).