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Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life...
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I wasn't up at the 70.3 WCs at MT today but read about the drafting. I've been to 4 WTC WC events (Kona twice and the 70.3s twice--Clearwater and Vegas) so that plus my reading of all of the ST posts on drafting at these events is what I'm leaning on for the following observations (and to be clear, I'm very much BOP at the WC races and so I generally have no one to draft off of even if I wanted to so in a sense, I'm just speculating here):

- I do think most folks in triathlon, especially those who spend enough time to get good enough at it to race at the WC level (but who are not pro and don't make any money from this activity) are people who believe in rules and who are not cheaters. This includes the drafting rule(s).

- In most races, these folks in fact follow the rules pretty much to the letter. (I know there are some who don't but I'm talking about the majority here)

- However, at Kona especially, and at most 70.3WC venues (Las Vegas was different) there are so many athletes racing that are so close to each other in ability on the Swim/Bike, and the Bike course is relatively tame, that it becomes very difficult not to violate the drafting rules (when 20 people pass you and you have to drop back and then go 1.2-1.4X your goal power to get back to where you were--only to have to repeat---this becomes a challenge to just accept)

-These folks adapt to the situation and then begin to bend the rules because everyone else is doing the same and the alternative of playing by the strict letter of the rules seems inherently unfair and is competitively very costly.

-So draft packs form--a statistical analysis of swim exit times and prior bike splits leads one to believe it's inevitable.

-The refs do as good a job as they can but you're talking about policing 2000-3000 people in a dynamic environment where that policing requires observation under sometimes challenging conditions and always requires judgement--which is inherently different for each ref.

-Competitors who see this and are upset about this either complain about those "drafting" or the refs or the lack of refs.

My view is that drafting at the WTC WC level is pretty much a given, even with good intent on most people's part and lots of referees, unless we go to a very different start approach (TT for example). The changes at Kona this year for AGers reflect a bit of this viewpoint...

So our options are to:

--accept it as a design flaw of the WTC WC and especially Kona (not saying to not police it but recognize that it will happen)

--accept it period--don't police it.

-make some significant changes in swim start format (people at Kona are so good you could spread the start out over 3-4 hours--old people first)

-boycott it

-something else?



Randy Christofferson(http://www.rcmioga.blogspot.com

Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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Not sure it needs to be a fact of life, but this is what I posted in the other thread. By the way, what I saw today was far worse than anything I have seen in Kona. In the end it is on the riders.

Tomorrow I will post my race report when there will be more details.

I think there were elements of the drafting that were worse than Clearwater. But those of us who know the course (I have done all three 70.3's in Tremblant and all three 140.6's) know that if you put that many age groupers between 3.8W per kilo and 4.4 W per kilo on the course, there is not a single hill in the first 70K that is steep enough or long enough to break things up naturally, so then you need more motos. In a regular 70.3 or Ironman, being a 4 - 4.2 W per kilo rider, I can ride up in the top 5-10 in my age group and largely solo. But at 70.3 world's you have 100 guys like me were are in that position in their local race.

I actually had an excellent discussion post race with both Jimmy Riccitello and Yann Therrien the head official for Triathlon Quebec, and also with Marc Roy on the limitations for road closures and wave spacing. I am too tired to share all the details now. There are many things that could be done on all sides to improve things, and it is a bit of everything that adds up to make things bad. In the end, athletes have to decide for themselves how they want to race. The choice is binary...get the race you deserve for your own fitness and let fellow competitors fly up the road on other wheels, or fly up the road on other wheels and have a better placement.

No surprise, I chose the "let them fly up the road on other wheels". More to come tomorrow.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
In the end, athletes have to decide for themselves how they want to race. The choice is binary...get the race you deserve for your own fitness and let fellow competitors fly up the road on other wheels, or fly up the road on other wheels and have a better placement.

No surprise, I chose the "let them fly up the road on other wheels". More to come tomorrow.

Paul, in my limed experience I agree. The choice is up to the athlete. I wonder what kind of person shamelessly drafts for miles and miles in a race. I can understand the logic (while disagreeing with the ethics) of doing so when you are a pro and money is on the line.

BUT AS AN AG??? Who cheats willfully at a race? Pretty much the same type of person who purposely cuts the course on a small town 10K race.

BUT once again in my limited experience I think that there is drafting and there is DRAFTING.


I have been to some races where they are points of congestion on the bike course where for a albeit brief time (maybe 2 to 3 minutes max) there is NOWHERE to go. I have had riders stacked 3 across in front that I cant pass and a log jam of bikes up my but so slowing down with any significant level is a less than safe option. When this happens I extricate myself from the situation ASAP. I am a MIP AG that is probably never gona win anything. I like working hard for what I get and my kids come to all the races I do and participate in junior races. I do not want to cheat or be perceived as one.

So in closing the guy who intentionally cuts 50 meters or 2 K on a 10K run is cheating PERIOD no matter how far.

HOWEVER I don't think being stuck behind pack of bikes with a bunch more up your rear on a hairy decent for 90 seconds is on the same level as the course cutter or the guy or gall who drafts for miles like a team TT event.

JMHO

PS, I look forward to your race report.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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rcmioga wrote:
- However, at Kona especially, and at most 70.3WC venues (Las Vegas was different) there are so many athletes racing that are so close to each other in ability on the Swim/Bike, and the Bike course is relatively tame, that it becomes very difficult not to violate the drafting rules (when 20 people pass you and you have to drop back and then go 1.2-1.4X your goal power to get back to where you were--only to have to repeat---this becomes a challenge to just accept)

When 20 people pass you, they are going faster than you and you don't have to slow down at all. In fact, you need to exert less power to maintain your speed because of the draft effect of all these people: it's a free rest break. Unfortunately, people seem to think that they have to maintain their effort when being passed, which due to the draft means they instantly go faster (and join the group).

You are a faster biker than I, you've done far more long course races, and I'm guessing you don't violate the drafting rules. I wonder why that is?

----------------------------------
"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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Swwms likw we agree Dev--I don't think drafting is inherent or "needs" to be a fact of life at Kona anthe 70.3WC. I don think given how these races are right now it's pretty much what we'll get every time. If we want something different, then things have to be designed differently....



Randy Christofferson(http://www.rcmioga.blogspot.com

Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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rcmioga wrote:
Swwms likw we agree Dev--I don't think drafting is inherent or "needs" to be a fact of life at Kona anthe 70.3WC. I don think given how these races are right now it's pretty much what we'll get every time. If we want something different, then things have to be designed differently....

  1. You need 2 lanes wide road for the entire ride
  2. You need 6-8 min between waves
  3. You need multiple waves for the large age groups
  4. Within each wave you have a rolling start by race number
  5. Need to design T2 so that pros can come in from the bike while age groupers are still heading out which allows for longer wave separation.
  6. Give out at least 2 penalties for every pack. No warnings. If you are in a pack just be assured that it is no warning


I BELIEVE that most of our peers want a fair race, but when the race becomes unfair, they lean towards engaging in the arms race..."if the other guy is going to have nukes so am I" type of thinking.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:

  1. You need 2 lanes wide road for the entire ride
  2. You need 6-8 min between waves
  3. You need multiple waves for the large age groups
  4. Within each wave you have a rolling start by race number
  5. Need to design T2 so that pros can come in from the bike while age groupers are still heading out which allows for longer wave separation.
  6. Give out at least 2 penalties for every pack. No warnings. If you are in a pack just be assured that it is no warning.
Yes you need all that.

OR

You need ONE head referee who is willing and able to do his job and enforce the rules.
Unfortunately, all we have is Jimmy R. and his astonishing ability to be "surprised" by all the drafting weekend after weekend, year after year.
Sad story, but 100th repetition does not make it less awkward
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
I BELIEVE that most of our peers want a fair race, but when the race becomes unfair, they lean towards engaging in the arms race..."if the other guy is going to have nukes so am I" type of thinking.

I think this is a clear lack of integrity on the part of some of the competitors. There was a guy (I still remember his bib number) that I had to pass a few times because he would follow the draft packs, get spat out a bit later before I overtook him again.

I don't really care about the results and placing to be honest but I do not like the draft packs for safety reasons first. When they were going past me, a few guys would overtake by the right and passing by very close. Also with everyone on the aerobars, if one goes done it becomes ten pin bowling at speeds of 40mph on the descents...

The only solution is a few massive DQ for a few races and everyone will stay away from each other. I mean if you wanted to give a penalty to everyone yesterday, you would have had to set up the banquet tent on the 117.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [Jamie] [ In reply to ]
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I agree that it is almost impossible to not draft for a few seconds here and there, which isn't really a big deal. However, when people can control it then there is no excuse and they should be penalized. During Toughman Half yesterday I had an interesting experience with this and was wondering if actually saying something to riders on the course would make a difference or would it just cause a fight!
My question is this:
If you are riding and maintaining a certain target power (for my case was ~210) you will pass A lot of people ahead of you that are holding less power (especially when you are a weak swimmer like me). Why is it that when you pass many people on a bike they don't drop back, instead draft for 30 seconds, repass you, and then resume there lower power causing you to play a game with them?

Being a very slow swimmer this happened to me many times yesterday and was driving me nuts. I think that although this would be almost impossible for a ref to catch it should be considered drafting. Inevitably the only thing I could do to get away from some people was to have a big surge (which probably helped me anyway but also helped them to an extent).
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Hey Ken, if you're question is why do I choose not to draft, it's because it's against the rules. I made my choice long ago and am proud to say I've done 146 triathlons and never had a penalty.

From a practical perspective, in most local races, I'm in the last or near last wave, and when I get out of the water there are two types of cyclists in front of me. Fast ones who have a 3+++ minute head start and I never see them in the race or slow(ish) ones,which are of no advantage for me to draft. In the few races that I'm in the first wave then generally I'm riding off the front.

In big races like Kona, I'm a MOP or BOP guy and I am generally no where near the crowds. I'm generally in the top 2-5% of cyclists in local races, 10-15% in WTC races but at Kona I'm in the bottom 25%. I'm in the bottom 40% in the swim but because I miss the big draft trains there and I choose not to draft my bike is actually relatively worse than my swim....and you know how I swim.

For strong swimmers/cyclists, the guys who are competitive at Kona, you either have to draft or pay an enormous competitive penalty. I feel sorry for folks in that situation who have good intentions.

"Lucky" for me I'm not good enough to have to face the temptation very often...



Randy Christofferson(http://www.rcmioga.blogspot.com

Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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rcmioga wrote:
Hey Ken, if you're question is why do I choose not to draft, it's because it's against the rules.

I'm sure that is why you don't draft. No doubt in my mind in your case. But you said "that it becomes very difficult not to violate the drafting rules": if indeed one doesn't draft because it is against the rules, then it really isn't difficult not to violate the drafting rules.

----------------------------------
"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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I understand the issues with drafting at these events where there are so many fast folks. I understand wanting to compete at the WCs and do well. I guess I would just like to see more of my fellow triathletes admitting that this is a major problem with these events and that they feel dirty joining the drafting trains. Although there are exceptions such as the threads here, the majority of stuff I read on social media from fast folks doing WTC events consists of boasts about new PRs and/or high AG placings, without even a mention that the drafting train helped. But I guess that is what WTC is selling to the fast folks these days...
Last edited by: Mark Lemmon: Sep 8, 14 7:28
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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Where is the option to increase enforcement? Blanket the course in motorcycles and these packs will remarkably dissipate. Make it clear that discretion and leniency will be exhibited in the first 10 miles when the density is high. But, at least at championship events, put enough police out there to sufficiently police the race.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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rcmioga wrote:
I wasn't up at the 70.3 WCs at MT today but read about the drafting. I've been to 4 WTC WC events (Kona twice and the 70.3s twice--Clearwater and Vegas) so that plus my reading of all of the ST posts on drafting at these events is what I'm leaning on for the following observations (and to be clear, I'm very much BOP at the WC races and so I generally have no one to draft off of even if I wanted to so in a sense, I'm just speculating here):

- I do think most folks in triathlon, especially those who spend enough time to get good enough at it to race at the WC level (but who are not pro and don't make any money from this activity) are people who believe in rules and who are not cheaters. This includes the drafting rule(s).

- In most races, these folks in fact follow the rules pretty much to the letter. (I know there are some who don't but I'm talking about the majority here)

- However, at Kona especially, and at most 70.3WC venues (Las Vegas was different) there are so many athletes racing that are so close to each other in ability on the Swim/Bike, and the Bike course is relatively tame, that it becomes very difficult not to violate the drafting rules (when 20 people pass you and you have to drop back and then go 1.2-1.4X your goal power to get back to where you were--only to have to repeat---this becomes a challenge to just accept)

-These folks adapt to the situation and then begin to bend the rules because everyone else is doing the same and the alternative of playing by the strict letter of the rules seems inherently unfair and is competitively very costly.

-So draft packs form--a statistical analysis of swim exit times and prior bike splits leads one to believe it's inevitable.

-The refs do as good a job as they can but you're talking about policing 2000-3000 people in a dynamic environment where that policing requires observation under sometimes challenging conditions and always requires judgement--which is inherently different for each ref.

-Competitors who see this and are upset about this either complain about those "drafting" or the refs or the lack of refs.

My view is that drafting at the WTC WC level is pretty much a given, even with good intent on most people's part and lots of referees, unless we go to a very different start approach (TT for example). The changes at Kona this year for AGers reflect a bit of this viewpoint...

So our options are to:

--accept it as a design flaw of the WTC WC and especially Kona (not saying to not police it but recognize that it will happen)

--accept it period--don't police it.

-make some significant changes in swim start format (people at Kona are so good you could spread the start out over 3-4 hours--old people first)

-boycott it

-something else?

- something else = make it legal.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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Randy,
I was there... Draft packs worse than Clearwater. I witnessed 6 of 20+ guys... Pissed off at first, then accepted as something the guys who want to win will do to stay at front.
I'm in your boat. Not good enough swimmer to get in front packs, so I don't have to make that decision, but I too have never had a penalty in over 100 races.
The disappointing thing is the head ref for this race stated in athletes meeting that their job was to keep anyone from getting an unfair advantage. Reading between lines, the usual " caught up and can't go anywhere on this climb but being around people isn't helping at all" wouldn't be penalized but the true cheaters would. They weren't.
Not my problem, but aside from the structural changes noted, a no questions asked 10+ minute penalty for everyone except the guy on point would help. Make the punishment significant, and it helps, I think.
Look forward to seeing you in Kona ,
Bill
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [kny] [ In reply to ]
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Blanketing the course with officials can work at maybe the "biggest" event in the sport. But at your local po dunk triathlon, it wont ever happen. So what then?

------------------
@brooksdoughtie
USAT-L2,Y&J; USAC-L2
http://www.aomultisport.com
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Ken--I hear you and get your point. But consider this: at Kona at the peak of the bell curve there is something like 500 athletes exiting in a 5 minute window--1.67 athletes/second! Many of these same athletes are very similar in biking capability. Add on top of this the wind, which makes it very difficult to break away from the front of a group and you have essentially unavoidable and very large groups. If you get passed and sit up to drop out of the draft zone, you're likely to get passed by 10s or maybe as many as 50-100 athletes--that's a long time to sit up. then to get back to where you were, you pull over left and exceed your power target for a few minutes to get back to the front only to have it happen again. If you decide to just drop off the back, there is a good chance another pack will catch you. Very hard to be pure from a drafting perspective in this situation.

I'm not condoning it and as I mentioned above, I'm not good enough to be up there where it's all happening but I think it's a real phenonemom that is different at WCs then at most races--especially at your basic DQ Events contest....



Randy Christofferson(http://www.rcmioga.blogspot.com

Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [BDoughtie] [ In reply to ]
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BDoughtie wrote:
Blanketing the course with officials can work at maybe the "biggest" event in the sport. But at your local po dunk triathlon, it wont ever happen. So what then?

Your local podunk triathlon does not have the same problem. Certainly not to the same extent.

If I were running WTC and I cared about solving, or at least minimizing, this problem, here is what I would do:
1. At qualifying races, ie all WTC races except the championships, a drafting penalty disqualifies from championship qualification. So, drafting penalty = no Kona and no 70.3WC. Will this solve the problem? No. Will a few people get hit unfairly? Yes. Will it make many people think twice about whether they are legal? Yes. A worthy trade-off? To me, yes.

2. At championship races. Blanket the shit out of the course in marshals.

That's how I'd do it if I made the calls at WTC and I were interested in minimizing this persistent issue.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [kny] [ In reply to ]
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Right but my point is, you can blanket it for the top races, but you certainly aren't going to blanket it for the qualifying races (my local po dunk races). So is the solution simply DQ at 1st offense?

------------------
@brooksdoughtie
USAT-L2,Y&J; USAC-L2
http://www.aomultisport.com
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [kny] [ In reply to ]
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Yes I agree, more enforcement is part of the solution. But only part. I recall at Kona 2012 there was something like 200 drafting penalties handed out--like 10% of the field, yet this was probably only a subset of the actual drafting occurring.

There are lots of good suggestions in this thread and in others, but I do think that given human nature (humans in general tend to behave in a way that if they think they can get away with something and it's to their advantage, many will do so) both the level of enforcement and the penalities for getting caught need to be examined. The advantage of drafting at a WC is quite a bit greater than 4 minutes. Also, there is a benefit for stopping and resting for 4 minutes--stretching and getting down some fluid and nutrition...the punishment is too light for the crime. Perhaps something like a 10-15 minute penalty for the first drafting infraction and then a DQ for the second.....



Randy Christofferson(http://www.rcmioga.blogspot.com

Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [kny] [ In reply to ]
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KNY: I'd also like to see people have to serve their penalties 1 mile from the finish of the RUN. You don't get the benefit of resting during the heat of the bike/race and then you have to sit there and have your legs turn to cement while you wait (for 10+ minutes)....



Randy Christofferson(http://www.rcmioga.blogspot.com

Insert Doubt. Erase Hope. Crush Dreams.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [kny] [ In reply to ]
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kny wrote:
BDoughtie wrote:
Blanketing the course with officials can work at maybe the "biggest" event in the sport. But at your local po dunk triathlon, it wont ever happen. So what then?


Your local podunk triathlon does not have the same problem. Certainly not to the same extent.

If I were running WTC and I cared about solving, or at least minimizing, this problem, here is what I would do:
1. At qualifying races, ie all WTC races except the championships, a drafting penalty disqualifies from championship qualification. So, drafting penalty = no Kona and no 70.3WC. Will this solve the problem? No. Will a few people get hit unfairly? Yes. Will it make many people think twice about whether they are legal? Yes. A worthy trade-off? To me, yes.

2. At championship races. Blanket the shit out of the course in marshals.

That's how I'd do it if I made the calls at WTC and I were interested in minimizing this persistent issue.

Not a bad idea.

Another option I would like to see contemplated by USAT is a "blatant drafting" rule in addition to the current rules. I don't have the answer for how it would be written, but the intent would be that the people sucking wheels for long periods of time or riding in packs would receive a DQ instead of a time penalty.

____________________________________________
Don Larkin
http://steelcityendurance.com/
http://www.reachmultisport.com/
USAT Lvl1 Coach, NSCA-CPT, TRX Qualified (Standard & Sports Medicine)
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [rcmioga] [ In reply to ]
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Also, there is a benefit for stopping and resting for 4 minutes--stretching and getting down some fluid and nutrition...the punishment is too light for the crime.

______

Here's a way they can improve it and not even have to do more enforcement. When you serve your penalty, simply have it where you can only stand there. Cant eat, cant drink, cant stretch, cant get coached. That's how ITU does it.

------------------
@brooksdoughtie
USAT-L2,Y&J; USAC-L2
http://www.aomultisport.com
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [BDoughtie] [ In reply to ]
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BDoughtie wrote:
Also, there is a benefit for stopping and resting for 4 minutes--stretching and getting down some fluid and nutrition...the punishment is too light for the crime.

______

Here's a way they can improve it and not even have to do more enforcement. When you serve your penalty, simply have it where you can only stand there. Cant eat, cant drink, cant stretch, cant get coached. That's how ITU does it.

I agree, 4 minutes is a nice break, 10 minutes of not stretching/eating/drinking/taking a leak late in a race would be tougher to bounce back from. Legs would definitely take a while to loosen after 10 minutes of standing around. Also a two strike rule for drafting, 1st offence is your 10 minute warning, 2nd and you're done.
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Re: Drafting is bad--agreed? But at the IM WC races it's a fact of life... [BDoughtie] [ In reply to ]
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BDoughtie wrote:

Here's a way they can improve it and not even have to do more enforcement. When you serve your penalty, simply have it where you can only stand there. Cant eat, cant drink, cant stretch, cant get coached. That's how ITU does it.

Or just add the time penalty to your bike split and total time at the end. Then you get absolutely no residual benefit from the stop.
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