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USAT rules
CREATED: 05/21/09 by lisalisadc REPLIES: 8
lisalisadc's ravatar lisalisadc    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 451
USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 9:34 AM

I just received this list from USAT regarding penalties, passing on the bike, getting dq'd, etc. Think that the tips are helpful for all (newbies and vets). Just remember not every club is as perfect and polite as DC Tri. :)

Tips for a safe and penalty-free race

Take a look at the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules that can be found at

However, there are some specific rules that will be receiving particular attention at this race, in particular those dealing with crossing the centerline, bike position, drafting, being overtaken and unauthorized assistance.

1. Crossing the centerline. It will never be considered safe to cross the centerline under any circumstances during this race. Crossing a centerline, either broken or solid, even for a moment, will certainly result in a time penalty and possibly disqualification.

2. Bike position. Ride to the right, pass to the left. You can only pass other cyclists on the left. Except when passing, you must ride as far to the right as possible.

3. Drafting. Keep three bike lengths of air between you and the cyclist in front of you, unless you're passing. If you try to pass someone, you have 15 seconds to complete the pass.

4. Being overtaken. If another cyclist passes you, you must immediately drop back behind that person, far enough so that you're out of the draft zone. This rule is hard to follow sometimes because your racing instincts will tell you to challenge the person who just passed you. However, it's required. You can only re-pass someone after you've dropped back out of the drafting zone.

5. Unauthorized assistance. You can only receive assistance from official race volunteers and staff. Friends and family cannot give you any food or drink, or provide any help with equipment problems. Once the race begins, everyone competes on the same basis, with the same on-course support. Also, friends and family cannot be on the course with you, and in particular cannot pace you while you're running.

6. Illegal Equipment. Any participant who at any time wears or carries a headset, radio (MP3 player, Discman etc), headphones or any other item prohibited in Section 3.4(i) shall be subject to a time penalty. It is unsafe and unfair for participants to listen to any type of music or device that will impair their hearing and awareness during the bike or run portion of the event.

Referees don't give warnings out on the course, and don't tell you if a penalty will be assessed. Infractions are documented by referees and race officials, and are reviewed by the head referee, who then decides if a penalty will be assessed.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 10:12 AM

good posting, those are the most violated rules adn probalby the easiest to avoid at the same time.

the only other things the USAT officials are sticklers for are the bar end plugs being plugged.. THIS IS A MAJOR MAJOR THING FOR USAT.

And also checking for CPSC certification on bicycle helmets, if you don't have the sticker that says it on the inside you can't use that helmet, no if/ands/or buts, and its non-negotiable.

one more thing to remember about drafting, if you try to pass someone and you can't pass them in the 15 seconds, even if you are in teh draft zone for 10 seconds and then drop back that counts as a drafting penalty.

suzkinsky's ravatar suzkinsky    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 121
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 10:45 AM is the link to the PDF version of this list.

What I see all the time (including in last weekend's Columbia race):
1. Littering - can't do it, counts as "abandonment." For example, you should not throwing empty Gu packets off the bike - stash them in your pocket or bento box. If you accidentally drop your water bottle you have to stop and pick it up.

2. Headphones - you are never allowed to wear these.

3. Riding the bike without a helmet. Obviously this is not allowed in the actual race, but it's actually not allowed at all on the grounds of the race. If you get caught riding around in the parking lot testing out your gears before the race and you're not wearing a helmet they can revoke your USAT license.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 10:54 AM

one little trick for holding onto the gu packets and such until the transition area where you can throw them out.

is to just put the empty packet inside and above of your thigh leg gripper on your tri/bike shorts to the side of your thigh, its basically out of the way, won't affect your performance and will stay there until you take it out, and you won't be littering.

remember littering (not throwing stuff away at an aid station or in the transition area) is one way to get a local community to NOT ALLOW a race ever again, afterall how would you feel if 1000 triathletes threw garbage on your front lawn or on your driveway?

ride safe and have fun out there.

emle's ravatar emle    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 127
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 10:55 AM

Agree - this is a good post and a good point about the bar end plugs as well as drafting. #4 - being overtaken - is one that that bothers me almost as much as drafting does, but I don't think it's stressed as much as drafting or the other rules are.
Another thing regarding the gu/gel packets or any little trash like that. If you're not comfortable riding with one hand as the other is searching your back pocket or bento box just stick the empty gu pack in the leg of your shorts. Sure you might end up with the gu on your leg or whatever, but it's a quick way to stash trash if you're in a hurry.


kev7's ravatar kev7    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 470
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 12:58 PM

I am totally guilty of this one: "Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way." I almost always fold my bib... the things are getting so big that they practically cover me! :-)

I see violations of this one a lot in the transition area: "The wheel of the bicycle must be down on the side of the assigned space."

Thanks for posting.


finnegen's ravatar finnegen    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 56
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 1:23 PM

I’ve wondered how the No Unauthorized assistance rule applies to participants helping other participants. Does it? I’ve seen participants toss tire patches, air or bandages to others. Are we technically not allowed, or there were no officials around to see it?

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1481
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 1:48 PM

Rules concerning unauthorized assistance

Rule 3.4.d
Unauthorized Assistance. No participant shall accept from any person (other than a race official) physical
assistance in any form, including food, drink, equipment, support, pacing, a replacement bicycle or bicycle
parts, unless an express exception has been granted and approved, in writing, by USA Triathlon. The receipt of
information regarding the progress, split times, or location of other competitors on the race course shall not be
considered the acceptance of unauthorized assistance. Any violation of this Section shall result in a variable
time penalty.

To read the rules for yourself:


vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: USAT rules
POSTED: 5/21/09 5:15 PM

I got this response from a USAT official

----Anybody who is part of the race organization is considered a "race official". "race officials" are not to be confused with USAT Officials.The test question for outside assistance is usually -- Is that person providing the service/food/drink, etc to everybody in the race, or just to the athlete(s) they know?

Ann Snoeyenbos
USAT-MA Officials Coordinator----

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