Age Group Draft Legal Triathlon – Basic Introduction

Draft Legal for Age-Group triathletes  

This is a very exciting opportunity but there are a few things to know before signing up and/or participating.  Below is a general guide with links to resources that may be helpful. For more information please feel free to email me at

When ITU announced the 2016 Sprint Triathlon World Championships would be Draft Legal only, a new style of racing became available to USA Age groupers.  Europe and Mexico have always raced this style but USA draft legal events were reserved for Youth and Junior Elite, NCAA Collegiate, Olympic development athletes and Professionals.

The first official ITU World Sprint Distance qualifying event was the USAT Sprint National Championships August 2015.

The second qualification event will be in Clermont Nov 7-8, 2015.

More information: Click – USAT FAQ

Racing Draft Legal is a very different style of racing than non-draft.  One of the most important to understand are equipment rules. These include, Road Bikes only with no aerobars of any kind (not even clip on), no aero helmets, torso must be covered at all times with racing suit zippers to the back only, and wheel restrictions.

More information: Click – ITU Draft Legal Rules pages 26-32 )

The Draft Legal Race Event:

Participation is limited. Most events are capped at 75. In time and with interest, this may shift but will be dependent on the RD and venue. Be sure to sign up early!

All athletes must attend a pre-race mandatory meeting.  Attendance is taken and a disqualification penalty is assessed if you do not participate


  • Allow extra time when coming in to transition race morning, there is a bike check area. Be sure to look for it. There they will check the bike, helmet and wheels. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR HELMET ON.
  • Prior to race start, all athletes are lined up according to their race # given.  When called they chose a “box” outlined on the ground, dock, or pontoon.  Once chosen, you may not move from that spot. You will patiently stand BEHIND your “box” spot until instructed otherwise.
  • All athletes will begin together but unlike a mass or timetrial start, EVERYONE will go when the gun goes off from a pre-chosen spot on a beach (run-in) or a pontoon (dive).


  • Wetsuits allowed only if water temp below 20C/68F
  • Specific commands will initiate the start of the event. You are looking for “you are now in the hands of the starter”. At this point, you’ll hear, “athletes take your marks (you’ll step into your “box”) and then the horn or gun will sound.
  • When the gun goes off, everyone begins.
    Click – Beach mass start 
    Click – Dive Mass Start
  • These starts can be and are very aggressive. It is highly important to be comfortable with body contact in the water.


  • All transitions are “pass through”. This means you will always enter one side and exit the other. Sometimes you will ride through the transition area on the bike course .
  • Helmets must be buckled at all times when touching the bike.
  • All bikes will be placed on a single side of the rack. Review the ITU rule link above for proper etiquette.
  • Transitions are minimal – no extra bags or equipment.
  • All personal items will need to be placed in a bin after you’ve used them. For example, you goggles and helmet.
  • It is suggested you practice A LOT. When working with athlete, an initial goal is <:06 for T1 (from touching the bike to getting it off the rack), T2 is <:04.
    Example: Click – T1 Bike Mounts
  • You need to be comfortable running with your bike at speed. Holding onto the saddle is most efficient.
  • Flying mounts and Dismounts are highly suggested.

Bike: Often a 5k loop.

This can be the most intimidating. For most athletes, it is suggested you participate in a cycling criterium event. Speeds are very fast and you will (hopefully) be riding very close to other athletes.

Competencies include:

  • Be able to secure feet into and out of shoes while maintaining a forward visual focus.
  • Be able to ride single and double pace-lines
  • Be comfortable using your voice – shouting – so others know your intentions.
  • Be skilled in cornering to the right AND left at speed
  • Be skilled at drinking from you water bottle and replacing it
  • Understand seated and standing techniques while maintaining speed

Know your abilities on the bike.
Understand that pulling the group may or may not be to your advantage. Time Trialing (ie non-draft technique) is not always the best option. In fact, this is usually reserved for an extremely strong cyclist or is the only option for those who didn’t come out of the swim with a group.


  • IF you are passed or are in danger of being passed on the bike, you will be asked to stop and your race is over.
  • IF you are not off the course by the time the first runner comes to the designated turn around or through transition (always dependent on the individual course and RD), you will be asked to stop.

Run: Often a 2.5k loop

  • If you’ve made it through T2 before the first runner comes through their first lap, you are all set.
  • Be sure to know where the penalty board is. If your number is on that board, you will need to stop, wait :10 and wait to be given instruction to proceed.


All penalties are assessed with a “stop and go” procedure. If an official stops you , don’t argue! If you’d like to protest, bring $50 cash and you can do so at the finish. During the event, your time won’t start until you are quiet.

Good Luck on Race Day
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. This is an exciting addition to the Age-Group experience!

I will be supporting adult athletes at the March Clermont,FL  AG 2016 draft legal race. Contact me if you’d like coaching support at the event. It’s always easier with assistance!

For more information on rules you can also go to





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