i did my first relay this past weekend. it was fun, though the swim was cancelled due to some crazy high chop that had the coast guard harbor-bound. it was going to be the swim person's first tri, coming over from crazy awesome masters swimming. she had a foot issue, so i did both runs of the now-duathlon. the bike person had been in triathlons before. i was replacing a runner who's done a bunch of sprint tris, but came from a marathon background.
here's the thing: our biker got a drafting violation. he wasn't too upset, just thought it was silly because he'd "just been talking to somebody else." apparently the ref hovered around them for a while, watching the blatant drafting, before coming up to my teammate and asking for his number. clearly, he shoulda lied but he's a good doobie. when i responded to this story with the inevitable statement "man, i'm always terrified about those three bike lengths", he was totally surprised. "THREE?! I thought drafting was when you hovered behind someone for the whole race or something!"
a conversation followed during which i found out (and not in a snotty way!) that quite a few of our fellow competitors, my team and people just standing around, didn't know about bar-ends, overtaking, dropping gu packs, what have you. during the run i'd passed five people with headphones, the white ipods are pretty obvious, though some had made a little effort to hide the ipod unit in their jersey or something.
and i'm not a freak. i have no chance of winning races, the time penalties don't matter to me, and i'm shy, so i think telling people they're violating rules DURING a race, when you're not the ref, is quasi-obnoxious, like saying "good job" when blowing past someone who's clearly having trouble.
i simply have done many a race with mandatory pre-race briefings, wherein the ref hammers the main points into my head. i believe in fairness, so i appreciate that USAT goes to this trouble with sanctioned races.
so.....do you know the rules?