Competitors often see the USA Triathlon officials at an event and groan, “Uh oh, all those guys want to do is catch me doing something wrong!” Not true. The goal of every USAT competitive rules official is to ensure fairness and a level playing field for all athletes. It is not writing penalties. In an effort to achieve this, each of the Florida Region officials strongly believes in education of athletes before the event starts.
Have you ever wondered what the referees are doing when they’re walking through transition? They’re checking to make sure that every bike has properly plugged handlebars, one working brake on each wheel and that an athlete’s bike is racked in the proper spot. This is the perfect time to say, “Hello,” and ask questions about the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules. So, if you have a question about the importance of bar end plugs, the draft zone or the difference between a position and a blocking penalty, the transition area is the perfect place to ask your questions. For more information on the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules and a complete explanation of each rule, go to www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/rules-education. Ultimately it’s your responsibility to know the rules
Once the race begins, USA Triathlon officials switch from providing education to observing and documenting the behavior of athletes. You’ll see the officials at the start of the swim checking for body marking, swim caps and athletes starting in an improper wave. While riding on the back of the motorcycle, officials are enforcing the bicycle position rules including drafting, overtaken, illegal passing, position and blocking. Out on the run course, referees monitor several things including the lack of a race number, abandoned equipment and unauthorized assistance.
If a competitor is observed violating the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules at any time during the event, referees document all violations and assess the appropriate penalties. While on the course, officials give no warnings. After the race, you should check your results. If you’ve received a penalty, feel free to look for the head referee in the striped shirt and ask for an explanation. That’s part of the education process.
By the way, we’re always looking for people to become USA Triathlon competitive rules officials. If you’re interested in becoming a referee or have a question about a rule, please email Tom Reilly, the Florida Regional Officials’ Coordinator.