Exactly what constitutes unauthorized assistance under USA Triathlon competitive rules? Under rule 3.4d Unauthorized Assistance, this means that, “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…”
Let’s break this down two ways. Triathlon is a single-person sport and a test of your individual training and preparation. As such, receiving anything from an outsider is against the rules. Bottom line, don’t accept anything from anyone that is not part of race management or from an official aid station. That means no food or drink of any kind, or anything else for that matter. “My wife just handed me a bottle of water during the run,” doesn’t cut it.
If while you’re out on the bike course and you get a flat, your chain falls off or you experience some other mechanical problem, it’s up to you, the athlete, to take care of the problem. “But my friend just helped me change the tire.” It doesn’t matter—if someone other than a mechanic in a SAG wagon offers to help you and you accept their help, that’s support and you’re violating rule 3.4d. The penalty for taking something or receiving assistance from a stranger, friend or family member is a time penalty.
Pacing is the act of someone not entered in the race either running along with you or riding a bicycle along with you while you run. While out on the bicycle course, this would be someone riding along with you on a bicycle or a vehicle. If either of these situations lasts longer than 15 seconds, you’ve broken the rule and will receive a time penalty. If someone wants to run along with you, wave them off. The same is true on the bicycle—wave them off. While the idea of finishing the race with someone running along with you might sound like fun, it will earn you a penalty.
Don’t take anything from anyone not in an official capacity and don’t allow anyone not entered in the event to run, walk or accompany you on the run. If a fellow competitor has crossed the finish line, their race is over, so they shouldn’t be running along with you. And don’t allow anyone to ride along with you either. Remember, triathlon is a test of your training and preparation.
For additional information on this rule or any other USAT competitive rule or to become a USAT official, email Tom Reilly, Regional Officials Coordinator, at FloridaROC@MSN.com.