For larger events such as Otago Champs, South Island Champs and Nationals you enter according to your gender, age and ability.
e.g. M21E, W40B, M12A
An age class normally has three parts;
- Gender M or W - Men or women. [in Europe they ofter use the prefixes H (men) and D (women)]
- Age Group. Based upon the year you were born. Junior classes are the age and below, senior classes age and above with M/W21 being open to any age - as long as you can handle the distance and difficulty. Juniors can run courses for older age groups (run "up") and seniors can run courses for younger age groups (run "down"). Junior age-groups are every 2 years and seniors may be either every 5 or 10 years depending upon the size of the event.
- E - Elite class, only do this if you're mad, fit or REALLY good, usually only used for M/W21 and M/W20
- A - Championship grade, or the top grade for all other age groups
- B - Slightly easier and shorter courses
- C - Like B but even more so...!
- L or S - Long or Short options but with no difference in difficulty (eg: W21AS is the same difficulty as W21A, but a shorter course).
Traditionally, beginners would start with C grade courses, then once they start to win that grade, move up to B grade. B Grade winners would move up to A grade, etc.
Note that you can be any age to run Elite class, you don't just have to be between 21 and 40 years old - but you have to be able to handle the distance and technical difficulty.