10 ways to get disqualified in a triathlon

It’s scary to consider how many ways you can receive the dreaded DQ in triathlon. Here and Ironman certified coach Phil Jarvis points out 10 ways your race could end rather faster than you’d hoped…

Every triathlete will have a race to forget – the runs legs turned to jelly; the bike lost in transition. But nothing quite matches the tail-between-legs ignominy of a disqualification. and Ironman certified coach Phil Jarvis points out 10 ways your race could end rather faster than you’d hoped…

1. Not putting your foot down at a junction.

Not all races are going to be on closed roads. In fact, it’s quite rare in the UK to ride completely traffic-free and sometimes the course will dictate that a busy junction has to be crossed. Be warned, race organisers will not compromise on health and safety, so if there is a directive to put your foot down ie. stop, you’d better abide. Often this is pointed out in the pre-race briefing, but not always, and it can be easy to forget when the adrenaline is flowing. It’s also likely that the marshal posted on said junction will be there for his or her no-nonsense manner, so excuses are not going to wash.

 2. Nudity

There are always a few tales from the continent about unabashed nakedness in transition, but indecent exposure in triathlon can result in more than one kind of embarrassment, in the form of red faces and red cards. Change tents are almost always provided for longer course races, and if you have to change in transition, think it through beforehand. The only lunchbox anyone needs to see is on the bike’s top tube.

 3. Crossing the centre line

This is another health and safety no-no, but is far easier done than you might imagine. Often one side of a highway will be open to bikes and the other free to traffic. No matter how congested your side of the road, you must not cross the divide to overtake. It can happen to high level performers. Andy Greenleaf, a top UK age-grouper, was DQ’d for this at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship last year. Thankfully for Andy there was a silver lining. With his day cut short in Austria, he made the late decision to compete at Ironman Wales and qualified as top age-grouper for Kona.

 4. Course-cutting

If ever there was a subject to get the keyboard-warriors tapping away, it is the thorny issue of course-cutting. Rarely is it deliberate, although there is the odd bamboozling case, such as Julie Miller, who was disqualified at Ironman Canada last year. But because of the spread of chip timing mats around the course, it is usually picked up by officials. This year’s Ironman 70.3 course in Mooloolaba, Australia was an example of where a number of triathletes were DQ’d for cutting the course. Protests that it was confusing and poorly signed fell on deaf ears, because – take note - it is ALWAYS the athlete’s responsibility to know the course.  

5. Aggression

This can be both verbal and physical and thankfully – with triathlon’s reputation as a friendly sport – is not too common. But with the pulse pounding and athletes physically and emotionally spent, it is not unknown for the occasional outburst. South Africa’s Richard Murray, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in Glasgow, was wound up in the 2016 World Series race in Hamburg. Having disagreed with a time penalty for a transition transgression, he produced an Up Yours gesture to the technical officials and having crossed the line second was subsequently DQ’d.

Continue reading our guide to 10 ways you can get disqualified in triathlon (ways 6-10 page 2,2)


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