ITU and Ironman hold historic meet

Worldwide race organisers discuss standardised rules for tri

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In the spirit of “global harmonisation in the sport of triathlon,” the first of many meetings between the International Triathlon Union (ITU), USA Triathlon (USAT) and Ironman/World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) has been held at the WTC’s Headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

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The meeting was hosted by the Ironman CEO, Andrew Messick, and included Gergely Markus (ITU Sport Director), Barry Siff (President, USAT), Jimmy Riccitello (Ironman Technical Director) and Paula Newby-Fraser (Ironman International Relations).

The meeting was a step toward cooperative initiatives beginning with the coordination of triathlon rules. The goal is to eventually provide a consistent standard at events of varying distances throughout the world.

“ITU and Ironman have so much to learn from one another,” said ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado. “It benefits triathlon as a whole when we work together to create safe and enjoyable environments for our great sport.”

The primary focus of the meeting was to discuss competitive rules for both elite and age-group athletes including drafting zones, penalties, swim temperatures, officiating, and elite athlete issues, with the idea of proposing standardised adjustments to be potentially approved for as early as 2015.

Recent rivalry

“We’re committed to having ongoing dialog with the ITU and our National Federation partners, so that together we can streamline rules and ensure we are providing triathletes from around the globe consistency at races as well as the best race experience possible. This is the first of many meetings to come,” added Ironman CEO Andrew Messick.

Any recent tension between the two worldwide triathlon powerhouses may have stemmed from Ironman’s launch of the Olympic-distance 5150 series in late 2010 as a rival to the ITU’s World Triathlon Series (whose San Diego race is pictured). Included in the non-drafting series has been the big money Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, which was formerly part of the ITU World Cup series and left the ITU without an American World Cup or World Series race in 2011.

The 5150 series, in Europe at least, has made little headway since its inception, temporarily hosting a non-drafting race in Liverpool (which is now the completely separate British Triathlon Champs) and now left with just two European events in Zurich and Marseilles.

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Image: Delly Carr/ITU