The Most Important Run And Transition Rules In Triathlon

There are rules out there on the transition and run course to respect – for your safety and the one of the other athletes. I have selected the most important ones for amateur triathletes. I personally like the last one in this article 😉

I have checked the latest official rules from the ITU (International Triathlon Union) as well as the ones from the 3 biggest national federations: the USA (USAT), France (FFTRI), and Great Britain (British Triathlon). Not all triathlon races are governed by those federations, but most of them follow those rules anyway. Always check your particular race.


The strictest rule I have seen during transition is regarding the helmet. You should fasten it before taking your bike out of the rack and remove it only once your bike is back on the rack after you completed the bike course.

For obvious security reasons, the race officials are really intransigent here. It is really not a place where you want to save a couple of seconds.

I have also seen athletes who forgot to remove the helmet during the second transition. It is quite funny to watch them start running and coming back 🙂 Be aware that it is actually forbidden to do the run course with a helmet on.

It might all sound stupid if you haven’t done a triathlon yet, but with the race’s adrenaline, those mistakes can happen quite fast. I took the habit of letting my helmet on my handlebar when I organize my transition area (with the chin strap open!), so I need to put it on before touching my bike. It is also the first gear I remove once my bike is back on the rack.


The mounting line of my 2nd triathlon

A physical mount and dismount line will be present to separate the transition area and the biking course. In most races, those two will be placed at a different location, hence the importance of checking those before the race.

Here are the exact rules from the ITU:

“Athletes must mount their bicycles after the mount line by having one complete foot contact with the ground after the mount line.

Athletes must dismount their bicycles before the dismount line by having one complete foot contact with the ground before the dismount line.”


Each triathlete has a designated place in the transition area. Make sure to use your space only and not interfere with the one of your neighbors.

The ITU mentions a 0,5m space below the rack number where all your equipment should be. If the organizer provides a specific bin, you need to put all your gears in it (apart from biking shoes, which can be fixed on the pedals as well)

You can only leave the equipment to be used during the race in your transition space.


I was wearing a tri-suit since my first race, so I never needed to change clothes. I was actually wondering how other athletes are doing. The rule from the ITU is crystal clear: “Nudity or indecent exposure is forbidden.”

If you haven’t read my article “Do you need a tri suit for a triathlon,” you might have a good reason to do it now 🙂


See below the list of running rules from the ITU. There are no big surprises here:

The athletes will:

  • Run or walk;
  • Wear the official race number (applicable always in the Age Group events. For other events, the Technical Delegate can make it mandatory, and athletes will be informed in the race briefing);
  • Not crawl;
  • Not run with a bare torso;
  • Not run with a bike helmet on;
  • Not use posts, trees, or other fixed elements to assist maneuvering curves; 
  • Not be accompanied by any non-competing athletes, team members, team managers, or other pacemakers on the course or alongside the course;

As for the biking portion, headphones, headsets, or technical earplugs which are inserted or covering the ears as well as glass containers are forbidden.


Crawling is explicitly forbidden by the ITU, the USA, and the British federation (I couldn’t find a mention of it in the French rules).

However, things are different if you are doing an Ironman event 🙂

Section 6.01: Athletes may run, walk, or crawl;

If you don’t know the history of Ironman, have a look at the video below. It might explain why crawling is allowed (it brought the sport to another status):

Use those rules as general guidance. Make sure always to check the rules of your specific races.
The rules are there not to confuse or annoy triathletes. They exist for your safety.

If you realize (before I do) that any of those rules changed, please email me at