Most Common Rule Violations in a Triathlon

triathlon rules most common violationsIf you are participating in your first triathlon or are a seasoned veteran, it’s important to know the rules of participating in a USAT event—and it may surprise you how many rules there are – See the complete list of USA Triathlon rules. USAT has put together a short list of the most common violations that occur in a triathlon. Please be sure to read through this list and take a look at the complete list so that your day is everything you’ve trained so hard for.

Most Common Rules Violations in a Triathlon

1. Helmets: Only helmets approved by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may be used in USAT sanctioned events. Helmets must be worn at all times while on your bike. This means before, during, and after the event.
Penalty: Disqualification

2. Chin Straps: Chin straps must be buckled at all times when on a bicycle. DO NOT unbuckle your chin strap unless you are off your bicycle.
Penalty: Disqualification on the course; Variable time penalty in transition area only.

3. Outside Assistance: No assistance other than that offered by race and medical officials may be used. Triathlons and duathlons are individual tests of fitness.
Penalty: Variable time penalty

4. Transition Area: All equipment must be placed in the properly designated and individually assigned bike corral. The wheel of the bicycle must be down on the side of the assigned space. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in their designated bicycle corral. No person shall interfere with another participant’s equipment or impede the progress of another participant. All bar ends must be solidly plugged. No participant shall bring ANY glass containers into the transition area.
Penalty: Variable time penalty

5. Drafting: Drafting–keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds. Position–keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel unless passing. Blocking–riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass. Overtaken–once passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear, before attempting to pass again.
Penalty: Variable time penalty

6. Course: All competitors are required to follow the prescribed course and to stay within all coned lanes. Cutting the course is an obvious violation and going outside the course is a safety issue. Cyclists shall not cross a solid yellow center line for ANY reason. Cyclists must obey all applicable traffic laws at all times.
Penalty: Referee’s discretion

7. Unsportsmanlike-Like Conduct: Foul, harsh, argumentative or abusive language or other unsportsmanlike conduct directed at race officials, USA Triathlon officials, volunteers, spectators or fellow athletes is forbidden.
Penalty: Disqualification

8. Headphones: Headphones, headsets, walkmans, ipods, mp3 players, or personal audio devices, etc. are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race.
Penalty: Variable time penalty

9. Race numbers: All athletes are required to wear race numbers at all times during the run. Numbers must face the front and be clearly visible at all times. Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way. DO NOT transfer your number to any other athlete or take a number from an athlete that is not competing.
Penalty: Variable time penalty for missing or altered number, Disqualification and one year suspension from membership in USAT for transferring a number without race director permission.

10. Wetsuits: Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wears a wetsuit within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited.

11. Abandonment: All personal equipment and belongings taken out onto the course must stay on the athlete the entire time. No garbage, clothing, etc. shall be thrown on the course.
Penalty: Variable time penalty

Variable Time Penalties

 Distance Category
 First offense
 Second Offense
 Third Offense
 Sprint  2 minutes  4 minutes  Disqualification
 Intermediate  2 minutes  4 minutes  Disqualification
 Long  4 minutes  8 minutes  Disqualification
 Ultra  6 minutes  12 minutes  Disqualification

 For a complete list of rules, please refer to the most up-to-date USA Triathlon Competitive Rules

So, plug those handle bar ends, leave the iPod in the car, and do not draft while on the bike. Remember a triathlon is an individual event that all participants should be able to participate in safely.

11 Replies to “Most Common Rule Violations in a Triathlon”

  1. The no headphones rule during the triathlon runs is ridiculous! Why are headphones ok for marathons or other races but not ok for the run during triathlons?? You’d get more people trying tris if the could run with their music!

    1. JSB,
      I agree, but we don’t make the rules, In my opinion I think they should allow them but only on the run. Especially on longer events like a Half Ironman. Thanks for your comments.

      1. @JSB, while there is great merit in the argument for the run, the dangers on the bike, especially for new people trying Tris puts everybody at risk. It’s a big hazard approaching someone with earphones in while on the bike, they could swerve at any moment right into you if they can’t hear you coming or your communication calls. I suppose that there are many courses where runners and bikers are using the same portion of the course and a runner listening to music could step in front of a bike zooming by just as easy, depending on how it is set up. Don’t get me wrong I love my music but not as much as I love not getting into a wreck! Not worth the risk and I am glad that this USAT rule keeps everybody safe out there.

    2. It’s not that far to run, plus I don’t have extra time to mess with an iPod during transitions. Also, I would get concerned if people were in my way and I couldn’t get their attention if their headphones were in. I say just enjoy the run and the world around you without headphones for 30 minutes.

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