TriEqual Calls for New Fair Starts Protocol in All Triathlon Races

Fair Races begin with a Fair Start: TriEqual proposes standardized swim time gaps for all long course triathlon participants.

BOULDER – TriEqual, the organization dedicated to fairness, development and equality in the sport of triathlon is expanding its activities to advocate a new start protocol in all triathlon races. TriEqual, the force behind the #50WomenToKona movement for female professional triathletes to gain an equal number of slots to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, is expanding the platform for fairness in triathlon and believes that improvements to existing start protocols will allow women to race without routine interference from other competitors.

TriEqual director Thorsten Radde has analyzed the impact of start times on the women’s race in Kona and in the most recent 70.3s on His race time graphs show that a fair race for the professional women requires a ten minute gap to the professional men and a 25 minute gap to the fast age group men.

“Having a ten minute gap would have avoided almost all of the problems we have seen in Oceanside and New Orleans,” concludes Radde.

TriEqual advocates that all race directors and governing bodies in triathlon adopt the TriEqual Fair Start Protocol as closely as possible within their logistical constraints to help ensure a clean race for all triathletes.

TriEqual proposes the following fair start guidelines:

World, National, Regional and all Long Course Championships:

• Male Professional Triathletes start first

• Female Professional Triathletes start +10 minutes

• Male Age Groupers start +35 minutes

• Female Age Groupers start +45 minutes

For Half Course races the gaps can be shortened to 10, 25 and 35 minutes to the Male Pros.

World, National, Regional and all Half Long Course Championships:

• Male Professional Triathletes start First

• Female Professional Triathletes start +10

• Male Age Groupers start +25

• Female Age Groupers start +35

“I am strong supporter of TriEqual Fair Starts Protocol. It showcases a simple way to create fairness in the races for both professional men and women,” said Angela Naeth pro triathlete and Ironman Champion.

“As I understand it, the vision of the founders of Ironman racing was each individual racing alone to beat the course and the other athletes,” said Meredith Kessler, pro triathlete and Ironman Champion. “The purity of Ironman racing should be preserved. Without fair starts, the vision of the Ironman founders has been sacrificed because it is virtually impossible to race without interference on any course.”

There are four components to the Fair Start Protocol. In addition to an appropriate and standardized start for championship races, recommends all governing bodies and race directors:

• Provide women and men with equal in-water warm up availability.

• Continue to seek safer alternatives to mass starts.

• Ask fellow competitors to minimize interfering with women’s races.

By advocating smaller start groups, the fair start protocol also addresses concerns of some women and beginners who don’t like aggressive swim starts and helps to create a more fair race by minimizing big groups on the bike.

“One of the best starts I have experienced was at Ironman Lake Tahoe where they had athletes self-seed themselves in corrals based on their estimated swim time. Then it was a rolling marathon style entry into the water.” said age grouper Barbara Perkins, director of TriEqual. “This format allows for smaller groups of athletes to start together who are at a similar pace.”

TriEqual was founded by a group of professional and age-group triathletes brought together by passion for the sport of triathlon and determination for the sport to provide equal opportunities for all. Follow us on Twitter at @50WomentoKona @tri_equal and Facebook. Learn more here.

photo credit: Gullane Beach Triathlon 2012_6884 via photopin (license)

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