Watching Bermuda’s triathletes compete at the Commonwealth Games Triathlon was bittersweet.
Flora Duffy, Tyler Butterfield, Jonny Herring and Tucker Murphy did us proud but the races were undoubtedly marred by the decision to pull lapped athletes from the race.
The rule stems from the International Triathlon Union’s rules for draft legal races that essentially apply only to professional races, such as the World Cup circuit and junior elite races.
In the professional races athletes are normally selected by world ranking, although in some of the lesser World Cup races the fields are not necessarily that strong. However, in these races, because of the qualification requirements, occasionally only one or two athletes get lapped and they know by electing to enter these races that there is that possibility.
Generally, it is much more of an even playing field. My understanding is that this rule was instituted for safety reasons as the bike and run are multi-loop courses typically on the same roads with the athletes passing through transition. Clearly it would be chaotic in the transition (change over area) if athletes were setting off on the run with bike stragglers powering through them to complete their last lap.
However, in the Commonwealth Games, if you are going to allow more than 25 amateur triathletes to compete against professionals such as Olympic gold and bronze medallists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, then clearly the course should be designed so that the run is separate from the bike.
Of the 47 starters in the men’s triathlon, only 27 finished and only one of those finishers was an amateur. At the Games in Manchester in 2002 (I was there) the run was separate from the bike and all athletes were allowed to finish and given a finishing time.
The race was won by Canada’s Simon Whitfield in 1 hr 51 mins with the last finisher Dave Savage coming across the line in 2hrs 48 mins and 49 secs to a huge ovation. Kent Richardson finished in 31st place in 2hrs 16 mins 40 secs. Tyler Butterfield and Karen Smith were our other competitors but would not have been affected had a lapped rule been applied. As in Manchester, many of the amateur triathletes in Glasgow came from the smaller nations such as Guernsey and Isle of Man, who competed in the Island Games in Bermuda. It is a shame that Herring and Murphy were not allowed to compete to the finish against them.
In the 5,000m track event at these Games, a competitor from the Solomon Islands was lapped more than once and finished all alone in close to 17 minutes ( the winning time was 13 mins 10 secs) to a huge ovation.
I wish our guys had enjoyed the same ovation.