USAT Sanctioned Rules and Regulations

USA Triathlon Sanctioned Event Logo

This is a USA Triathlon sanctioned event, which means that all our races adhere to the rules and regulations of USA Triathlon. Everyone who races is required to have a USA Triathlon membership or one day pass. These can be purchased with your registration. Learn more about USA Triathlon membership and the benefits of being a member! 

We want to ensure your safety and the competitive integrity of our events. All USA Triathlon rules will be monitored and enforced during this race series. Our trained staff will be on the course so that you can race your best while ensuring everyone else has the same opportunity.

We recommend you review the most commonly violated rules in triathlon and duathlon events. Check out USA Triathlon to see the entire list of USA Triathlon rules.

Overview of USA Triathlon Rules in Common Language

Note: Every athlete should review the official USAT rules before race day. 

General USAT Rules:

  1. USAT Membership: All participants in events sanctioned must have a USA Triathlon annual membership or single event permit. 
  2. Age Group Rule: All age group athletes must participate and compete in the age group division corresponding to the athlete’s age on December 31 of the year of the event.
  3. Know the Course & Stay On Course: Participants must cover the prescribed course in its entirety. It is the participant’s responsibility to know the course. Upon leaving the course, a participant shall re-enter the course and continue at the same point of departure.
  4. Be a Good Sport: Participants shall refrain from unsportsmanlike conduct, including the improper use of language or conduct directed toward an official. 
  5. This is Not A Contact Sport: Participants shall refrain from intentionally or accidentally blocking, charging, obstructing, or interfering with the forward progress of another participant. No participant shall use his body, head, arms, or legs to gain an unfair advantage, or to push, pull, hold, strike, or force through one or more participants. 
  6. No Unfair Advantage: 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. And, no participant shall use any equipment which the Head Referee determines to be improper, including but not limited to equipment which might provide an unfair advantage or endanger other participants. 
  7. Race Numbers & Body Marking: Participants shall plainly display their race numbers at all times, and shall maintain the race number in an unaltered, unobstructed and readable state at the start and finish gates, in the transition areas, and on the course. 
  8. Do Not Shed Your Gear or Trash: No participant shall leave any equipment or personal gear on the race course. 
  9. No Audio Devices: No participant shall, at any time during the event, use or wear a hard cast, headset, radio, personal audio device, or any other item deemed dangerous by the Head Referee. 
  10. Glass is Bad for Feet & Bikes: No participant shall utilize any glass bottles or glass containers at any time during the event. 
  11. Keep Your Clothes On: Public nudity at any time during the event is prohibited. 

Swim Specific USAT Rules:

  1. All Strokes Allowed: Swimmers may use any stroke to propel themselves through the water and may tread water or float.
  2. Resting Or Touching the Bottom: A participant may stand on the bottom or rest by holding an inanimate object such as a buoy, boat, rope or floating object. Excluding the bottom, a participant shall not use any inanimate object to gain forward progress. 
  3. In Case of An Emergency: A swimmer experiencing difficulty and in need of assistance shall raise an arm overhead, and pump it up and down, and call or seek assistance. A swimmer, who has received official assistance, whether voluntary or involuntary, must retire and withdraw from the remainder of the race unless such assistance did not aid the swimmer in making forward progress. No swimmer shall return to the race if the official rendering assistance requests that the participant withdraw from the race or receive medical assistance.
  4. Wet Suits: 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 wet suit at their own discretion, provided however that participants who wear a wet suit within this temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Age group participants shall not wear wet suits in water temperatures equal to or greater than 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Any swimmer wearing a wetsuit with a thickness measured in any part greater than 5 millimeters shall be disqualified. 
  5. Wear Your Swim Cap: If provided by race management, a swimmer shall wear the proper official swim cap corresponding to his wave. The penalty for an infraction of this rule is a variable time penalty. For safety reasons if no official cap is provided, all swimmers should wear their own brightly colored swim cap.
  6. Goggles are Optional, But Highly Recommended: Swimmers may wear, but shall not be required to wear, swim goggles or face masks.
  7. You Cannot Use a Boat or Flippers: Any swimmer wearing any artificial propulsion device, including but not limited to fins, gloves, paddles, or floating devices of any kind shall be disqualified.

Transition Specific USAT Rules:

  1. Reduce Cycle Speed In & Out of Transition: A participant must reduce cycling speed to an acceptable and safe level when exiting and entering the transition area. Failure to do so shall result in a variable time penalty.
  2. All Gear Goes in the Transition Area: All participants shall place equipment only in the properly designated and individually assigned bicycle corral and shall at all times keep their equipment confined to such properly designated areas. 7.3 Bicycle Placement. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in the properly designated bicycle corral after completion of the cycling course and before beginning the next segment of the event. Any violation of this Section shall result in a variable time penalty.
  3. Watch Out for Others in Transition: No participant shall impede the forward progress of another participant or interfere with another participant's equipment while in the transition area. 
  4. Hand on Bike, Helmet on Head: The helmet must be fastened before the participant first mounts the bicycle, at all times when the participant is on the bicycle, and must not be unfastened until the participant has dismounted. 
  5. Glass is Bad for Feet and Bikes: Any participant who brings any glass container into the transition area shall be disqualified.

Bike Specific USAT Rules:

  1. Human Power Only & Push It If Necessary: All bicycles shall be propelled only by human force and human power. Other than pushing a bicycle, any propulsive action brought on by the use of the hands is prohibited. Participants shall not make any forward progress unaccompanied by their bicycle. If a bicycle is rendered inoperable, a participant may proceed on the cycling course, running or walking, while pushing or carrying the bicycle, so long as the bicycle is pushed or carried in a manner not to obstruct or impede the progress of other participants. 
  2. Obey the Traffic Laws: All participants must obey all traffic laws while on the cycling course unless otherwise specifically directed by a USA Triathlon official, race monitor or designee with actual authority. Unless otherwise directed in accordance with the preceding sentence, all participants shall come to a complete stop when required by a traffic sign or traffic control device and shall not proceed through any intersection unless such intersection is clear of oncoming traffic. In no case shall a cyclist cross a solid yellow line indicating a no passing zone.
  3. Hand on Bike, Helmet on Head: The helmet must be fastened before the participant first mounts the bicycle, at all times when the participant is on the bicycle, and must not be unfastened until the participant has dismounted. 
  4. You Cannot Draft Bikes or Cars: 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. 
    1. The 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.
    2. After Being Passed Move from the Drafting Zone: 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.
  5. No Blocking or Crowding; This is Not Football: Cyclists must not block or obstruct the progress of another participant. 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 movements without making contact.
  6. Stay to the Right: Except for reasons of safety and when no advantage is gained, all cyclists shall keep to the right of the prescribed course unless passing.

Pass on the Left: 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 alters 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.

Run Specific USAT Rules:

  1. Run or Walk The Course: A participant must run or walk the entire portion of the run course. Except for reasons of safety and when no advantage is gained, all runners shall follow and remain within the prescribed course. A participant who gains forward progress by crawling or otherwise violates this Section shall be disqualified. The responsibility of knowing and following the prescribed course rests with each participant.
  2. No Glass or Audio Devices: We already covered this.