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Drafting in Ironman


Yesterday I basically gave my opinion on drafting in Ironman with one single solitary lonely word: No.   I’ll expand on that in this post. First, let me explain what drafting is incase you are not too familiar with riding fast bikes in groups of people.

Drafting is the act of using another cyclist to shield one’s self from the wind.  A rider is drafting when she tucks in very closely behind another rider and dramatically reduces her wind resistance.  The rider in front still has to pedal in to a wall of air, but the back rider doesn’t.  You can imagine how this affects cycling over 112 miles.

Why I Say No

I have two reasons why I don’t like drafting.  They are kind of personal so I don’t expect anyone to carry my flag on this issue, but they are pretty important.

  1. Ironman is a test of individual merit, not team strategy.  That’s why it’s called Ironman and not Ironmen.  I don’t mind all that strategy stuff in a bike race and I enjoy watching the draft legal ITU triathlon races.  However, when it comes to an Ironman, every individual is at the mercy of their own athletic abilities. Getting help on the side of the road is OK, because that’s one athlete altruistically helping another.  It’s not game strategy.  (e.g. Chrissie Wellington blew her C02 and got help from another athlete).

  2. If drafting is so desirable, there are venues and events for that.  Go do those.

As long as the rules don’t allow drafting, I’ll be yelling, “Break it up” at the pelotons I see in a race.  Some people have no shame.  It’s a pity that we must have course marshals riding around on Goldwings trying to catch drafters.  They have to be there, because some athletes just can’t follow the rules.

Speaking of rules: why do I have to wear a shirt in an Ironman? There are times when I just…

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