3.4e is really a further refinement of an earlier rule we covered, 3.4a — Entire Course. Re-entry requires that any athlete who leaves the course will to return to their point of exit for re-entry or face a penalty. Here's the rule:
Upon leaving the course, a participant shall re-enter the course and continue at the same point of departure. Any violation of this section shall result in a variable time penalty, unless the Head Referee in his sole discretion determines that (i) the violation was substantial and resulted in an unfair time advantage, or (ii) the violation constituted endangerment under Section 3.4(l), in which case the penalty shall be disqualification.
So if a participant left the course and returned to the course without re-entering at the point of departure, the referee would make a determination that it was a substantial time advantage and disqualify the athlete, or in the case that it was determined to be a very small difference, say 15 or 20 meters off, a time penalty would be assessed.
An example of this rule in action would be in the case where an athlete needed to use toilet facilities and saw a public restroom just off course. The participant is required to depart the course and return at the same point in order to avoid a penalty.
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Have a question about the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules? Please contact Charlie Crawford.