Just as with every other sport, triathlon has its own set of rules that dictate what kinds of things are legal or illegal on race day. These can have a wide range of penalties from time deductions to disqualification. Its always good to know these rules before you show up since they can make or break your race! (I, as well as countless other athletes, have had races where a penalty was the difference between being on or off the podium) Here are some of USAT’s most common violations:
1) Drafting – This is far and above the most commonly violated rule. According to the USAT rule book, you must stay at least 3 bike lengths behind the athlete in front of you while on the bike. In the event that you need to pass another rider, you must move from 3 bike lengths back to in front of the rider in less than 15 seconds. Remaining less that 3 lengths behind another rider for more than 15 seconds is considered a drafting violation and is subject to a time penalty.
2) Blocking – When we ride, we all know its safest to stay to the right side of the road. This mentality applies to racing as well. You must always stay to the right side of the road unless you are passing another rider or avoiding some kind of hazard in the road. Riding to the left is considered dangerous and blocks faster bike traffic. Violation of this rule is cause for a time penalty.
3) Littering – Don’t drop anything on the side of the road. That one’s pretty self explanatory and includes water bottles, food, and nutrition packages. This also is a time penalty.
4) Helmet – Any time during the race that your bike is off of the rack in transition, your helmet needs to be on your head and buckled. If you are caught with an unbuckled helmet, this can be grounds for disqualification as it can be extremely dangerous.
5) Race Number – Your race number must be visible. This means when you are on the run portion of the race, you MUST have your bib on you. You don’t, however, have to wear the bib on the bike, regardless of what certain race directors will tell you.
Hopefully, if you keep these rules in mind, you can avoid getting any penalties in your next triathlon!