With the excitement that comes on race day, it can be really easy to forget some important triathlon rules. My wife and I listed the 10 that you should keep in mind during race day.
1. BIKE CHECK-IN: END PLUGS, WHEELS, AND BRAKES
Before you can enter the transition area, someone will control your bike. Those volunteers don’t have time to ride each bike, they will, however, perform a quick check, especially on your end plugs, wheels, and brakes.
I would highly recommend having some spare end-plugs with you on race day. You might lose them during transport or you might help another triathlete in need.
2. NO NUDITY IS ALLOWED
If you are using a tri suit for your race, you don’t need to worry about this rule, as you won’t change clothes after each discipline.
If you decide to change clothes after each sport, you will either need to battle changing your clothes with a towel or go to a restroom.
Some of the biggest events will have a gender-specific tent where triathletes can change clothes. To avoid surprises, I would highly recommend checking the athletes’ guide of your specific race beforehand.
3. KEEP YOUR HELMET FASTEN
All triathletes know that a helmet is mandatory. With the adrenaline of the race, it is however easy to forget when to put it on and off.
You should fasten your helmet before taking your bike out of the rack and remove it only once your bike is back on the rack after you have completed the bike course.
4. RESPECT THE TRANSITION LINES
A physical mount and dismount line will separate the transition area and the biking course. Those two will be placed at a different location in most races, hence the importance of checking those before the race.
You must mount your bike after the mount line by having one complete foot contact with the ground after the mount line.
You must dismount your bike before the dismount line by having one complete foot contact with the ground before the dismount line.
5. RIDE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE STREET
Depending on your race location, you must either stay on the right side or left side of the street. It is really important to stay there even if sometimes the race organizers are closing the entire street. You need to let space for the motorbikes of the race officials and also for the other competitors who want to overtake you.
6. DO NOT JOIN A GROUP ON THE BIKE
There are some rules that all triathletes must respect when it comes to drafting. When you are on the bike course, you might however be tempted to join a group of riders that flies by you so you can get some free speed. As the race officials cannot be everywhere, this group might avoid a penalty, but do you really want to be such a triathlete?
The length of the draft zone and the time you have to overtake varies per organizer and per federation. I wrote an entire article that goes more in-depth about it. Check it here: Drafting In Triathlon: What Is Legal And What Is Forbidden
7. GET HELP ONLY FROM RACE OFFICIALS AND COMPETITORS
I was surprised by this rule as I thought I would automatically be disqualified if I receive some help.
On the bike course, triathletes can receive help from race officials or other triathletes, but not from external persons. Ironman, for example, states that “Athletes competing in the same race may assist each other with incidental items such as, but not restricted to: nutrition and drinks after an aid station, pumps, tires, inner tubes, and puncture repair kits.”
You can’t give an item to another triathlete if it would end your race, like a wheel or a bike. In this case, you and the other athlete will be disqualified.
8. DISPOSE OF TRASH ONLY AT DESIGNATED POINTS
Race officials are intransigeant when it comes to intentional littering. Depending on the race, it can be a time penalty or a direct disqualification. There are designated zones where triathletes can throw their trash. Those zones generally start before the aid stations and finish shortly after.
For me, this rule is an obvious one and I never forgot it on race day. However, based on the quantity of trash that we can still see on race courses, I decided to keep it in this top 10 to remind everyone.
9. WEAR YOUR RACE NUMBER CORRECTLY
Depending on the event, you might need to wear your race number on the bike portion (at the back). For the run, you always need to have it visible in front of you. The main purpose is for race officials to be able to identify you but wearing it correctly also gives you the added benefit of helping the photographers to associate the pictures to the right person and having the crowd scream your name for additional motivation.
10. DO NOT LET SOMEONE ACCOMPANY YOU
I actually received such a time penalty. When I was at extreme exhaustion on my first long-distance race, my brother spontaneously decided to run next to me and encourage me for 50m. It definitely helped me and hence gave me an unfair advantage.
It is easy to read this rule and agree with it. It is another thing on race day. At this point of the race, I seriously couldn’t think about this rule. I was simply struggling to put one foot in front of the other.
Triathlon comes with a lot of rules. If you are interested in learning more about the most important ones for each discipline, have a look at the articles below: