The Tri To Make A Difference sprint Triathlon is a USA Triathlon sanctioned event. This means, that USAT provides insurance for all athletes, spectators, and volunteers during the race, and protects Tri To Make A Difference, LLC and all affiliates in the case of bodily injury to any of the aforementioned.  In order to receive this insurance coverage, the event is bound by USAT rules and regulations.

This page contains a detailed summary of the USA Triathlon rules as well as explanations for why things are not allowed. We’ve provided a link to the USA Triathlon website where you can get a complete listing of the rules. The official rules are divided into sections and this is the format we follow.

Official USAT Rules (from the USA Triathlon Website)

Section 1: Scope, Purpose, and Construction

Quoted here are the purposes for the implementation of USA Triathlon rules:

“To promote and maintain sportsmanship, equal opportunity and fair play; To encourage and reward individual performance and initiative; To protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of participants; To promote the integrity of sport and triathlon as a positive cultural force in modern day society; and To foster the foregoing ideals through the establishment and enforcement of punitive rules.”

Note: Race Directors may make exceptions to these rules

Section 2: Membership/Insurance

In order to compete in a USAT sanctioned event, all athletes must be members of USAT. Individuals may purchase an annual membership (recommended for those who participate in several events each year) or they may be allowed to participate in certain sanctioned events through the issuance of a single event permit. Any person obtaining a single event permit shall be subject to all of the Rules, Regulations and Policies of USA Triathlon. Membership must be established during the registration process. You may not compete without it. If you are already an annual member, you must present your membership card at packet pickup. New members may register for a yearly membership ($45 for adults, $15 for youth), or for a single event membership ($12 for adults, and $10 for youth).

Section 3: General Rules

To enter the Clydesdale Category (male only) you must weigh over 220 pounds. To enter the Athena Category (female only) you must weigh over 165 pounds. If you don’t meet these weights on race day, you will be transferred to the Age Group category.

Unsportsman-like conduct, obstruction, unofficial assistance, missing race numbers, disallowed equipment, equipment left on the course, and endangerment all usually result in variable time penalties or disqualification. Some of these are obvious, and some are not. See the following:

Unofficial assistance: In triathlon you are not allowed to have your family or your friends give you anything such as food, drink, or race equipment along the course (exceptions made for those entered in the Physically Challenged Category). However, you may carry things such as your favorite sports drink or food with you or drink/eat it in the transition area. Water stations are provided along the course.

Missing race numbers: This section in the rules can be confusing. It sounds like you have to jump in the lake with your paper number on. Don’t worry: you don’t. This simply means you must get body-marked (prior to the race) for the swim leg, display the numbered label provided for your bike during the bike leg, and wear paper bib number during the run leg.

Disallowed equipment: There are a few things that are not allowed in triathlons that you may not be aware of. These include cell phones, music (walkmans, ipods, smart phones, cd players, etc.) and glass. Listening to music is a safety hazard; you must be able to hear other racers, hear warnings and directions from course crew, and be aware of any approaching vehicles.

For violations of this kind (unless involving unsportsman-like conduct and endangerment), only variable time penalties are assigned. “Variable time penalties” simply implies that longer races have higher time penalties. For a complete list of time penalties by distance, see section 3.7 of the official rules.

If you do something horrific you may be suspended from future participation in the Tri To Make A Difference. They are pretty obvious (like purposeful physical violence or nudity), so I am not going to actually list them.

Section 4: The Swim

All strokes are allowed (including breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke).

You may rest on an inanimate object or the bottom. You cannot push off from an inanimate object because it is considered unfair forward progress. Doing so, will most likely result in a variable time penalty. We have an extensive swim safety crew: kayaks, boats, lifeguards. You are allowed to hold on to a kayak for rest, but the kayaker cannot propel you forward. If the kayaker provides you any mobility assistance, it means you have chosen to withdraw from the race.

Emergencies: If you feel you cannot complete the swim, remove your swim cap and wave it overhead. Call for help. If you can, swim to an inanimate object or to the shore providing they are toward the direction of the rescue crew. Don’t be embarrassed to call for help if you need it. It happens to triathletes in almost every race. Usually, you will be asked to withdraw from the rest of the race if you need to be rescued.

Swimming equipment: Wetsuits are allowed providing the water temperature is 84 degrees or less. If the water temperature is 78-83 degrees you may wear a wetsuit, but you won’t be eligible for prizes/awards if you do. Swim caps must be worn. We provide swim caps to you at packet pickup, color-coded for your assigned wave. You must wear the cap provided; this is our only means of keeping track of how many swimmers have completed the course in each wave. Goggles and face masks are allowed but not required. Fins, gloves, paddles, floating devices, and artificial propulsion devices are not allowed.

Section 5: The Bike

Please note: All bike athletes must wear a helmet and have bike handle bars plugged or you will not be able to compete.

You cannot be on your bike within the transition area. Ever. When starting the bike portion, you must exit transition, cross the designated line, THEN mount your bike. When you return, you must dismount your bike before the designated line outside of transition, and THEN accompany your bike back to your bike rack.

All progress must be made with your bike. This does not mean you must be on your bike. If your bike breaks down, you may walk or run with your bike. You cannot leave your bike on the side of the road and proceed running. Unless you are pretty close to finishing the bike portion, we recommend waiting for a repair crew to come and assist you, if you can’t fix the problem yourself. Bike repairs do not result in time penalty or disqualification.

You are responsible for knowing the course and obeying all traffic laws.

You must have your helmet on with chin straps fastened before you mount your bike. If you violate this in the transition area, you will receive a time penalty. If you violate this on the race course you will be disqualified. You cannot remove your helmet or unfasten your chin strap until you have racked your bike in transition. In other words, if you are touching your bike, your helmet should be on.

Drafting is not allowed. Drafting is using another bike or a vehicle to block wind which allows a cyclist to go faster. This means you must stay seven meters behind the cyclist in front of you. This is equivalent to the length of three bicycles. If you need to pass another cyclist, you are allowed fifteen seconds to enter into another cyclist’s drafting zone to pass them. The cyclist who is passed is responsible for moving back.

You must pass on the left.

If you are not passing, you must stay on the right. As in driving, do not cross double yellow lines or the center unless making a turn.

There are certain specifications that bikes and helmets must meet. Unless yours is unusual or old, it is most likely allowed. Mountain bikes are allowed even in road courses. If you think your bike

Section 6: The Run

You can walk or run the run course or do a combination of the two. Crawling is prohibited and will result in disqualification.

Section 7: Transition

All of your equipment must be kept in your section and you must re-rack your bike.

Use caution when entering and exiting the transition area especially if you are on your bike. Pay attention to the course crew and their directions, especially when on your bike.

No public nudity. There is nowhere to change clothes separately. Whatever you swim in, you will bike in and run in (with the exception of wet suits). You may add layers over your swim suit for the other courses.

All these violations carry a variable time penalty 

Section 8: Drug Use

Don’t use them – for more detail see official rules.

Sections 9-11: Race Officials, Protests, and Hearings

See official rules. Unless you have violated other rules you don’t really have worry about these.

Physically Challenged:

There are special rules and exceptions to rules for physical challenged participants. For more details see the official rules.

For a complete listing of all official USAT rules, click here.