Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



6 Ironman Rule Changes You Should Know About

Ironman announces new rules on disc brakes, cell phones and more.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Ironman announces new rules on disc brakes, cell phones and more.

Technology is evolving in triathlon, and with it, the rules. In an announcement released by Ironman at the beginning of the season, head referee Jimmy Riccitello outlined new rules for 2017 on disc brakes, cell phones and more. What competitors need to know:

Disc brakes are a go.

Following the lead of the International Triathlon Union ITU, who approved the use of disc brakes for competition in 2016, Ironman will allow road and triathlon bikes equipped with disc bikes at all Ironman and 70.3 events.

Cell phones are allowed on the course—kind of.

Two-way communication devices, such as walkie-talkies and cell phones, have long been banned on the race course. It’s been a difficult rule for officials to enforce, especially as more and more athletes use their cell phones for bike/run data or race-day tracking. As a sign of the times, Ironman will now allow cell phones on the course, but that isn’t an open invitation to live-tweet your race: athletes using cell phones in a “distractive manner”—in their words, “making and receiving phone calls, sending and receiving text messages, playing music, using social media, taking photographs and mounting the device to a bike for purposes of using the device like a bike computer.”—will be disqualified.

Yellow means stop.

If a race official flashes a yellow card at you during the bike, you’ll now have to spend a minute in the penalty tent on the bike, or a minute on the spot on the run course. This is different from before, when yellow card penalties required a quick stop-and-go check-in at the tent—a practice that yielded highly variable penalty times based on the number of athletes serving penalties and the volunteers available to record the athlete’s information. With the new one-minute rule, Ironman is standardizing the penalty time for all athletes.

Cover up.

Cycling and running with a bare chest is still prohibited. All athletes must wear a shirt, jersey or tri top at all times during the cycling and run portions of the race. This year, Ironman clarifies that rule further by following the ITU standard of “uniforms with a front zipper must not be undone below the point of the end of the breastbone (sternum).” Failure to zip up will result in disqualification.

More options for PC athletes.

For blind and visually impaired athletes competing in the Physically Challenged division, partnering up with a guide will be easier. The unique challenge of locating a guide who is a match both athletically and personally is difficult enough, but the pool historically has been limited further due to a requirement that both guide and athlete must be the same gender. Ironman will lift that requirement in 2017, encouraging visually impaired athletes to find a compatible guide of either gender.

New tools to check cheaters.

In 2016, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick announced officials would begin checking bikes for motors using technologies developed by cycling’s governing body, Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI). In 2012, their efforts to combat technological fraud in will be supported by the ITU, according to Riccitello: “We will use the ITU to monitor technological fraud at select Ironman events globally. The ITU has access to the latest technology able to detect the use of motors in bicycle frames or wheels.”

The updated 2017 rules for Ironman and 70.3 will take effect March 1, 2017 in Europe, Africa and the Americas. Because race season has already begun in Asia and Oceania, the rules will gradually be rolled out on a race-by-race basis between March and July.

Though the rules are expected to be implemented broadly at all Ironman races, there may still be some subtle rule differences due to local laws or policies at a few Ironman venues. Therefore, athletes should always familiarize themselves with their event’s Athlete Information Guide prior to race day and attend the mandatory pre-race meetings.

For more information about Ironman’s 2017 rule changes, visit