This week's rule is the first of the 3.4 Race Conduct rules.
3.4a Entire Course.
Participants must cover the prescribed course in its entirety. It is the participant's responsibility to know the course. Any violation of this section, even if no advantage is gained, 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 the event the head referee makes such a determination, the penalty shall be disqualification.
The obvious premise of 3.4a is the requirement that each participant will traverse the entire course as laid out by race management. Enforcement and penalty assessment is determined by how much of the course was missed or cut by the athlete.
For instance, if a swimmer cuts just inside a swim turn buoy, a time penalty would be applicable. However, if a swimmer turned early and missed the turn buoy by a substantial amount, say 50 meters, then a disqualification would be be the result. That method of judging the athlete's advantage is applied for course cutting on the bike and run as well.
This rule is most often applied at events that have a multiple loop design for bike or run and athletes have been found doing less than the required number of loops.
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Have a question about the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules? Please contact Charlie Crawford.