Found on Ironman.com
We talk with Ironman head referee Jimmy Riccitello about the changes to the year’s global competition rules.
IRONMAN: What are the most notable changes in the IRONMAN Competition Rules from last year?
Jimmy Riccitello: We increased the age-group draft zone from 10 meters to 12 meters for all IRONMAN 70.3 and IRONMAN events, including their respective world championships. The professional draft zone will remain at its current 12-meter distance. The draft zone distance will continue to be measured from the front wheel of the leading athlete to the front wheel of the following athlete; roughly equal to six bike lengths of clear space between athletes. The time allowed to pass another athlete will increase from 20 seconds to 25 seconds.
Our goal with this rule change is to continue to address our athletes’ desire to have fairer races with respect to drafting. Lengthening the draft zone will make the bike leg more of an individual effort, and make it easier for our referees to spot athletes who fail to make good choices with regard to following the drafting rules.
We have also modified the “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Only blue card rule violations (drafting and intentional littering) will count towards an athlete’s three strikes and lead to a disqualification. Yellow card rule violations (all other penalties) do not count towards an athlete’s three strikes. Our intention here is to give heavier penalties for a) rule violations that result in an unfair advantage, or b) tarnish our local venues. That said, the IRONMAN Competition Rules still allow an athlete to be disqualified for repeated rule violations should someone receive excessive yellow card violations.
Snorkels will be prohibited in our events this year in order to align with the international standard that has been in place for many years—primarily with safety in mind.
Finally, the swimwear rule has been changed. During non-wetsuit swims, swimwear sleeves, or race kits worn under sleeveless swimwear, may now extend from shoulders to elbows.
There are other small changes—tweaks to the verbiage, mainly—but these are the big ones.
Do the changes in the IRONMAN Competition Rules coincide with the changes the International Triathlon Union (ITU) made for their 2016 Competition Rules for middle and long distance triathlon?
Yes. All of our changes have been made in concert with the ITU in an effort to align our rules with theirs. I am proud of the progress we have made towards the ultimate goal of having one global rule book for long-distance triathlon, and am grateful to the ITU for its willingness to work together in this pursuit.
Do you think the changes made by both parties will have a positive impact on the sport globally?
Definitely. As a result of our collaboration, it’s easier for athletes to race in countries other than their own with respect to knowledge and enforcement of the rules, regardless of the language barrier. Of course, some small differences will still exist from country to country. But each year, as we continue to work together, those differences become fewer.
When will the 2016 IRONMAN Competitions Rules start being enforced at our events globally?
The updated 2016 IRONMAN Competition Rules for IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events will take effect March 1, 2016 in Europe, Africa and the Americas. The Competition Rules will roll out in Asia-Pacific between March and July. Athletes competing in Asia-Pacific events between March 1 and July 1 should familiarize themselves with the event Athlete Information Guide to get information on rule enforcement.
Do these rules apply to both IRONMAN & IRONMAN 70.3 races? As well as both world championships?
Yes. As I mentioned earlier, there may be small differences from venue to venue depending on the event’s sanctioning body. Athletes should always familiarize themselves with the individual event’s Athlete Information Guide prior to competing.
Is there a difference in the rules for age group athletes than professional athletes?
Yes. Not significantly, but they differ—primarily because the relatively small professional field allows for more stringent rules and a higher degree of scrutiny.
Do you think there will be any issues with enforcing the rule changes on a global basis?
The longer draft zone will take some getting used to—for both athletes and referees. But considering the other things that we are doing to minimize drafting—such as implementing rolling starts, strategically ordering the wave starts, and increasing the amount of time between wave starts—we are moving in the right direction.
It will take time to get everyone on the same page, but the important point is that the page is the same from race to race. IRONMAN is pushing hard to educate all of its partners about the new changes. We will get up to speed on a global basis quickly, and I am certain that the ITU will do the same. I am hopeful for a smooth transition.
View the 2016 IRONMAN Competition Rules on our Rules and Regulations page.