Draft-Legal Racing

    Draft-legal racing is typically faster and more competitive than non-drafting races. With the Olympic triathlon transitioning to draft-legal racing,  it has recently been gaining popularity, especially in international and elite competitions.

    Draft-legal races build an athlete’s bike-handling skills. Athletes must also incorporate more strategy and know when to lead the pack, when to follow, and how to react to tempo changes while drafting.

    Athletes who aren’t as strong in the swim or bike disciplines can conserve energy by drafting behind stronger athletes. The more energy athletes have for the later stages of a race, the more competitive races will be.

    Racing draft-legal tends to make athletes improve their swimming and biking abilities. These enhanced skills are useful in traditional multisport races, too!

    Draft-legal races typically feature multiple laps on a shorter circuit, meaning races can be held in smaller, more compact locations. There must be separate bike and run courses.

    Draft-legal racecourses are completely closed to ensure both athlete safety and a stronger overall experience.

    Rule Differences

    The primary difference between draft-legal and non-drafting races is that there aren’t drafting penalties during a draft-legal race. The two are otherwise similar but for a few exceptions: Note: The following is not intended to be a comprehensive coverage of the age group draft-legal rules, guidelines and procedures unique to draft-legal racing versus Non-Draft Legal racing. This document is intended as a primer on the very basics. View more multisport and draft-legal specific rules.


    • Draft-legal races are a youth-focused promotion that helps create a pathway for the development of high-performance athletes. By providing opportunities for young athletes to participate in draft-legal events at an early age, USA Triathlon may more easily identify and nurture talented athletes who have the potential to excel in the sport at the highest levels.
    • Draft-legal races also give Age Group Team USA athletes opportunities to prepare for draft-legal World Championship events.
    • Draft-legal races can help promote the sport of triathlon to a wider audience and encourage more participation in the sport as a whole.

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