Race Rules

The Black Hills Triathlon — Race Rules

Please Note: it is the athlete’s responsibility to know the course. It is not the responsibility of volunteers to direct athletes. They are there to assist but all athletes need to be familiar with the course prior to the race. Penalties, and possible disqualification, can be given to those cutting the course and no time adjustments will be made for those who go the wrong direction.

USA Triathlon and Sanctioning and Insurance

This race will be conducted with the highest professional standards and race support to ensure athletes are safe and supported. This race is sanctioned and insured by USA Triathlon (USAT) and requires all participants to obtain a one day USAT membership ($12) or show proof of annual membership. Black Hills Triathlon will be draft-free and have USAT certified course officials to ensure a safe and fair event. The swim course will have Red Cross certified lifeguards. The bike course will have certified flaggers or Thurston County Sheriff at all major intersections.

Youth Participation

We allow youth, ages 12-17, to compete in the 2015 BHT! We are excited to have high school aged youth involved.

Please note, any youth wishing to sign up for the race should be comfortable swimming a half mile in open water, have experience cycling on open county and city roads and have the ability to complete a 17 mile ride. Youth must be familiar with, and able to abide by, all traffic rules and regulations. Also, please note that parents/guardians are not allowed to accompany, or help, youth during any part of the competition and are not allowed in the transition area. It is our goal to make this event as safe as possible and it is imperative that parents/guardians, and youth, recognize the dangers of competing in a triathlon and the importance of training and experience.

Weather Policy

The Black Hills Triathlon will be held rain or shine unless we determine that race conditions are dangerous. This is based on a prudent decision made on race day. If the race is cancelled there will be no refunds. This position is consistent with USAT recommendations and with the protocol of sharing the risks associated with the sport of triathlon. In the event of inclement weather (i.e., lightening, torrential rain, extreme winds), Acts of God, or unforeseen circumstances, we reserve the right to alter, cancel or eliminate any/all portions of the race. Each athlete must accept such risk of their entry fee paid including other amenities paid for such as online administration fees, insurance, etc. All fees collected are used to develop and produce the event, including all race supplies. In the event of a race cancellation, race shirts and swag will be distributed to all registered athletes.


The water temperature at Long Lake is anticipated to be about 68 degrees. This is a wetsuit legal event and wetsuits are recommended for all participants.

Athlete Courtesy

When on the run course, all athletes must pay attention to faster runners coming up from behind, or head on, and avoid blocking athlete progress. On the bike course riders should move to the right to allow faster racers to pass. When passing, athletes need to say “on your left” in order to alert a rider that they are about to be passed.

No Audio Equipment

No audio equipment of any kind is allowed on the swim, bike, or run. Time Penalties of 2 or 4 minutes will be assessed for every noted occurrence.

Penalty Reports

Penalty reports will be posted at the results board in the expo area. A list of penalties will be posted as soon as possible. This is the same place that the preliminary results are posted. Once all the infraction reports have been reviewed and all the penalties determined and posted, the head referee (he or she is the person in the black and white striped shirt) will be visible and available to answer any questions or address any concerns about the penalties.

Contesting a Penalty

If you’re concerned about a particular penalty or situation, the best (and usually only) thing you can do is talk to the head referee. He or she is the only person on site at the race who can assess or rescind penalties. Race management does not assess triathlon penalties and cannot change anything if you receive one, however much they might want to help you. It is best to talk to the head referee about any concerns while you’re still at the race site. Although head referees are happy to try to help in the days and weeks after a race, it’s much easier for everyone to address concerns while memories are fresh and all the information is close at hand. Time for Filing Protests: All protests must be filed in writing and submitted to the Head Referee within sixty (60) minutes after the person filing the protest has completed the event.

Appealing a Penalty

Under certain, restricted conditions, penalties may be appealed to USA Triathlon headquarters. In general, only matters that can be determined with certainty through the production of tangible physical evidence, can be appealed. Judgment calls cannot be appealed, and violations of the bike position rules are specifically defined as judgment calls. In other words, the only person who can do anything at all about a bike position or drafting penalty is the head referee. If you believe an appeal is appropriate, the head referee can provide you with the proper form, or you can get it at the USAT triathlon web site. A $100 filing fee is required. If you win you get your money back.

Questions About USAT or Run Rules and Regulations

The best time to ask questions about the rules is before the race. If you have any questions, please ask a referee. USAT referees will be wearing either red uniform shirts, red, white and blue uniform jackets, or a striped uniform shirt. Believe it or not, they’re there to help.

USAT triathlon most common penalties described

Triathlon is an incredible sport of endurance, persistence and individual training. Many athletes spend months training for the race of their lives, only to discover at the finish line that their overall time had been increased by a few minutes — or in some cases disqualified — due to a penalty on the course. We would like to help everybody avoid this unpleasant situation, so the following is a description of a few of the most common USAT penalties. The USA Triathlon Competitive Rules address a number of different issues, and can be found at www.usatriathlon.org. 1. Violating the NO PASSING zone existing between the transition area and the park entrance. Anyone passing in this zone will be disqualified due to the safety of all athletes. NO EXCEPTIONS. 2. Crossing the centerline. In Washington, you may cross a broken centerline to pass only when it is safe to do so. Crossing a centerline, either broken or solid, even for a moment, will certainly result in a time penalty and possibly disqualification 3. Bike position. Ride to the right, pass to the left. You may only pass other cyclists on the left. Except when passing, you must ride as far to the right as possible. You have 15 seconds to complete a pass, and once it has been completed you must return to the right hand side of the road. 4. Drafting. Keep three bike lengths of air between you and the cyclist in front of you, unless you’re passing. If you try to pass someone, you have 15 seconds to complete the pass. You may not drop back out of the drafting zone once you have started a pass. However, once your front wheel gets ahead of the cyclist you are passing, they must immediately drop back three bike lengths. 5. Being overtaken. If another cyclist passes you, you must immediately drop back behind that person far enough so that you’re out of the draft zone. This rule is hard to follow sometimes because your racing instincts will tell you to challenge the person who just passed you. However, it’s required. You may re-pass someone only after you’ve dropped back out of the drafting zone. 6. Unauthorized assistance. You may only receive assistance from official race volunteers and staff. Friends and family cannot give you any food or drinks, or provide any help with equipment problems. Once the race begins, everyone competes on the same basis, with the same on-course support. Also, friends and family may stand on the sidelines but they cannot be on the course with you, and in particular cannot pace you while you’re running. 7. Unsportsmanlike Conduct. In the heat of a race, and in striving for a good result, sometimes athletes forget themselves in their contact with race staff. Volunteers, Officials and Referees are considered race staff. Any cursing, verbal abuse or abusive behavior (as defined by community standards) towards race staff before, during, or after the race may be grounds for an athlete’s disqualification and forfeiture of any awards or race benefits. 8. No Audio Equipment. No headphones will be allowed on any portion of either the bike or run courses. This is for athletes’ safety. You are racing on highway and streets with vehicle traffic.