RULES AND ETIQUETTE  OF TRAINING AND RACING

By Nenad Rodic
posted 04/05

It is my intention to talk about the rules as well as the common courtesy and etiquette involved in training and racing. We have all been in a situation when another competitor, a person on a group ride, or a driver in car has wronged us in some way. Since the purpose of this site is to improve the quality of our triathlon lives, I feel that it is necessary to talk about the rules, written and unwritten, that govern our sport.

SWIMMING

Rules in swimming are very simple for all, yet often forgotten by many.

RULES IN TRAINING

1) Always circle swim. If you are in the USA or Europe stay on the right side of the lane and if in the UK, Australia, or some other commonwealth country, stay on the left. A good rule of thumb is to swim on the same side of the lane as people use when they drive in that particular country. It is important to circle swim to insure the safety of others and to allow the pool to be utilized to its maximum. If you split your lane with only one other person, on the other hand, you are putting people in a situation of having to ask you to move, and that can be unpleasant for both parties.

2) Choose a lane that is appropriate for your speed. It is considered common courtesy in swimming to stay out of another swimmer's way. With this in mind, if you see a swimmer repeating 100's on a 1 minute sendoff and you know you cannot make this interval, it's best for you and for the other swimmer to choose another lane. You may still get a good workout if you are in a lane with people who are swimming considerably faster than you are, but they almost certainly will not.

3) When training with others, leave five seconds apart unless there are very few people in your lane, in which case leaving ten seconds back is acceptable and preferable.

4) Do not draft your lanemates too closely or touch their feet. Sometimes it is necessary to get into a good drafting position in training just to stay with the interval, but swimming on the feet of the person in front of you should be avoided by going ten seconds back (or more, if necessary) or simply going ahead.

5) If training in open water, always wear a brightly colored cap. Most ski boats ride high in the water, making it very difficult for the driver to see up to 200 meters ahead. Exercise this reasonable precaution and avoid such a hazard by always wearing a cap that is bright and visible. back to top

RULES IN RACING

1) When racing in a swim meet, enter a time that you think is reasonable for you to swim. By entering times slower than you will swim, your fellow competitors can be thrown off by your pace; by entering really fast times you may be placed in a heat that is too fast for you, thus occupying a spot that would be more appropriate for a faster swimmer.

2) When racing an open water or a triathlon race, start at the spot appropriate for your speed. Faster swimmers should go to the front or side, while slower swimmers should begin towards the back or off to the side. Read more on this issue on the triathlon specific training page.

3) Do not push people out of their spots so you can get a better draft. There is no justification for this behavior; it is plain rude.

4) If someone hits you or swims over you, do not think much of it. It was probably unintentional. Even if it was intentional, getting angry will not help you. The intentions of othes are for them to resolve and are not relevant to you or your race.

5) If the open water race is longer than 5 km, drafting is not allowed.

6) If you have drafted a competitor throughout a triathlon swim, it would not be proper etiquette to pass them in the end. However, if you are in an open water swim event, drafting and out-sprinting the lead person is a legitimate tactic. back to top

CYCLING

RULES IN TRAINING

1) Never ride in the middle of the road.

2) Avoid gesture or verbal exchange with drivers. For many drivers, a bicycle is a novelty and they are likely to be afraid of it. As often they don't know how to behave around a cyclist, some drivers resolve to defensive posturing. Remember that this is an act of a scared person, not someone who really means you harm. Pity them; do not get angry with them.

3) When training with others, do your part by doing some pulls up at the front. Disregard this rule only if the people you're riding with are much stronger and you're barely holding on.

4) Always wave and smile at a fellow cyclist passing by in the opposite direction. This rule seems to be nonexistent in Europe. back to top

PACK RIDING RULES

1) Hold your line. It is essential to hold the line (the same distance from the side of the road) both while riding straight and while turning. If you do not hold your line, you are endangering the safety of yourself and others. The person riding behind you may not have enough time to correct his/her own line and compensate for your change; but even if they do, the person behind them may not.

2) If there is a pace line going, stay out of the top ten spots unless you want to participate in it. If you are actively participating in the pace line, you'll need to be aware of the pattern (both the direction and interval of the exchange between the rider who is falling back and the new leader); the pattern usually depends on speed and wind direction, and it is important to do the same as everyone else does.

3) If someone bumps or leans into you, lean back into that person with your body; you will not fall. Don't try to move your bike. If your handlebars get tangled up, you are definitely going down.

4) Point out to other riders the anomalies on the road (glass, objects on the road of any kind, or irregularly parked cars). People behind you may not be able to see them. back to top

RULES IN RACING

If you are competing in a cycling race that is not a time trial or a triathlon that is draft legal, apply the rules of pack riding.

If you are racing a time trial or a non-drafting triathlon you need to obey the rules prescribed by the body that sanctioned the race.

1) Always stay on the right and allow people to pass.

2) Amateur USAT drafting rule:

5.10 Position Fouls.

In accordance with the Rules as set forth in this Section, a participant is not permitted to position his bicycle in the proximity of another moving vehicle so as to benefit from reduced air resistance. While on the cycling course, participants shall not work together to improve performance, efficiency, or position by teamwork or other joint conduct. A variable time penalty shall be imposed for any violation of this section. This section shall not apply to off-road triathlons and duathlons and shall be excluded from enforcement at those events.

(a) Illegal Positioning. Except as otherwise provided in these Rules, while on the cycling course, no participant shall permit his drafting zone to intersect with or remain intersected with the drafting zone of another participant or that of a motor vehicle. With respect to a motor vehicle (including authorized race vehicles), it is the athlete's responsibility to move out of the vehicle's drafting zone or to continually communicate to the vehicle to move away.

(b) Definition of Drafting Zone. The term "drafting zone" shall refer to a rectangular area seven (7) meters long and two (2) meters wide surrounding each bicycle. The longer sides of the zone begin at the leading edge of the front wheel and run backward parallel to the bicycle; the front wheel divides the short side of the zone into two equal parts. With respect to a moving motor vehicle, the "drafting zone" is a rectangular area extending 15 meters to each side of the vehicle and 30 meters behind the vehicle.

(c) Right-of-Way. A participant is generally entitled to assume any otherwise proper location on the cycling course provided that the participant arrives in the position first without contacting another participant. When taking a position near another participant, however, a cyclist shall not crowd the other participant and shall allow reasonable space for the other participant to make normal movement without making contact.

(d) Blocking. Cyclists who have established the right of way must not block or obstruct the progress of another participant.

(e) Passing. A participant who approaches another cyclist from the rear or from another unfavorable position bears primary responsibility for avoiding a position foul even if the cyclist being approached decreases speed. A participant must not attempt to pass another cyclist unless adequate space is available and the athlete is confident of his/her ability to pass the other cyclist. All passing is to be done to the left of the cyclist being overtaken unless otherwise specified.

(f) Position. Except for reasons of safety and when no advantage is gained, all cyclists shall keep to the right of the prescribed course unless passing.

(g) Being Overtaken. When the leading edge of the front wheel of one cyclist passes beyond the front wheel of another cyclist, the second cyclist has been "overtaken" within the meaning of these Rules. A cyclist who has been overtaken bears primary responsibility for avoiding a position foul and must immediately move to the rear and out of the drafting zone of the passing cyclist. The overtaken cyclist shall first move completely out of the drafting zone of the other cyclist before attempting to re-pass the other cyclist. In no case, however, shall a participant move into the path of another participant possessing the right of way.

(h) Exceptions. A participant may enter the drafting zone without penalty only under the following conditions:

(1) When entering the drafting zone from the rear, closing the gap, and overtaking all within no more than 15 seconds.

(2) When cyclist reduce speed for safety reasons, for course blockage, for an aid station, for an emergency, when entering or exiting a transition area, or when making a turn of 90 degrees or more; or

(3) When USA Triathlon or the Head Referee expressly excludes a section of the bicycle course from the position foul Rules because of overly narrow lanes, construction, detours, or a similar reason.

3) USAT pro drafting rule:

a)Illegal Positioning. Except as otherwise provided in these Rules, while on the cycling course, no participant shall permit his drafting zone to intersect with or remain intersected with the drafting zone of another participant or that of a motor vehicle. With respect to a motor vehicle (including authorized race vehicles), it is the athlete's responsibility to continually communicate to the vehicle to move away.

(b) Definition of Drafting Zone. The term "drafting zone" shall refer to a rectangular area ten (10) meters long and two (2) meters wide surrounding each bicycle. The longer sides of the zone begin at the leading edge of the front wheel and run backward parallel to the bicycle; the front wheel divides the short side of the zone into two equal parts. With respect to a moving motor vehicle, the "drafting zone" is a rectangular area extending one meter to each side of the vehicle and fifteen (15) meters behind the vehicle.

(c) Exceptions. A participant may enter the drafting zone without penalty only pursuant to the following exceptions:

(1) When entering the drafting zone form the rear, closing the gap, and overtaking all within no more than 15 seconds; or

(2) When cyclists reduce speed for safety reasons, for course blockage, for an aid station, for an emergency, when entering or exiting a transition area, or when making a turn of 90 degrees or more.

(d) Position on Course/Right-of-Way. Except as otherwise provided in these Rules, a participant is generally entitled to assume any otherwise proper location on the cycling course provided that the participant arrives in position first without contacting another participant.

(e) Staggered Positioning. All cyclists must assume and maintain a staggered riding position relative to the cyclists directly ahead; no cyclist may maintain a position of the course directly in line with a cyclist directly ahead. This staggered position must be maintained even if the cyclist is outside of the drafting zone and following at a distance of greater than ten (10) meters.

(f) Blocking. Cyclists who have assumed a proper position must not block or obstruct the progress of another participant.

(g) Position and Passing. A participant must not attempt to pass another cyclist unless adequate space is available and he is confident of his ability to overtake and pass the other cyclist.

(h) Overtaken. When the leading edge of the front wheel of one cyclist passes beyond the front wheel of another cyclist, the second cyclist has been "overtaken" within the meaning of these Rules. A cyclist who has been overtaken bears primary responsibility for avoiding a position foul and must immediately move to the side or to the rear and out of the drafting zone of the passing cyclist.

These rules seem to be the most important ones and the ones people break most often but there are many more official rules that deal with a variety of issues, from equipment to conduct. To view them visit USA Triathlon web site. back to top

RUNNING

RULES IN TRAINING

1) If you are on a track, warm up and warm down in the outside lanes. If you are running slower repeats with faster runners present, it's proper etiquette to leave them an inside lane or whichever lane they may prefer.

2) If you are on a trail, yield to bikers and stay to your right unless you are in the UK, AUS, etc.

3) If you find yourself on a single track, runners who are climbing have the right of way.

RULES IN RACING

1) Know the course. This is especially important if you are racing in Xterra competitions, with the potential of getting lost in the middle of the Colorado wilderness, for example.

2) The use of headphones during any portion of a triathlon is strictly prohibited; contrary to the belief of some, this includes the run portion as well.

3) Be nice and courteous to the volunteers and other competitors.

By Nenad Rodic, founder of TriathlonPlace.com