While Galloway Captiva’s race organizers are saying that they received much positive feedback on the race’s new elite-only wave, the USA Triathlon (USAT) Commissioner of Officials is saying the race may have made an error in only allowing elite athletes to be eligible for overall awards.

Ultimately who’s right and who’s wrong is going to come down to semantics—and the word “overall.”

“Overall is not a category or a division, it’s restricted only by how fast you are,” USAT’s Commissioner of Officials Charlie Crawford said. “The person with the fastest official time is the winner of the race,” he added.

For 24 years Crawford has been officiating at USAT sanctioned events. He’s been the USAT’s Commissioner of Officials—or head referee—for 17. He says he’s seen situations like this arise at a number of races. “This is not that uncommon of a situation,” he says. However, he adds that the ruling is almost always reversed.

But there is a loophole that means the weekend’s results could stand. Crawford has seen this loophole used in a few, very rare cases. The Galloway Captiva Triathlon could have awarded separate “First Place Elite” and “Second Place Elite” awards and had no overall winner.

However, it would have needed to be made clear that there would be no overall winner to the race.

After being notified about the possible loophole and asked to respond, race director Angie Ferguson wrote in an email that she’s sure the organizers called the awards first, second and third for each category—that the word overall was never used. But fellow director Kate Gooderham wasn’t so sure. “I think we called it overall,” she said, in a phone interview.

And even the trophies aren’t clear. The first place trophy awarded to the elites reads simply “Galloway Captiva Triathlon” with both elite and overall missing.

USA Triathlon has asked for a copy of the race results and will be examining what the final outcome will be. Since results from a race are not finalized until 10 days after the race, things could still change.

Editor’s Note
There are a few things we wanted to make note of about this story:

First, we want to applaud the Galloway Captiva Triathlon for its outstanding work fundraising for CCMI. This race is a fantastic fundraiser run by many volunteers just trying to do the right thing—we recognize that. We at Fit Nation appreciate the efforts of all local race organizers.

Second, this issue was brought to our attention not just by one person but by many. Julia Wreski, who we featured in our previous article, did not come to us seeking justice. We came to her after enough people commented on the inequity and she graciously agreed to be interviewed for the story. Any concerns over of our reporting of this story should be directed at Fit Nation Magazine. Please feel free to contact us with your comments or concerns.

Third, there was a positive story that came from all of this. The second place elite finisher—who finished behind Julia Wreski in time—actually took a moment to congratulate Wreski on her awesome race via the local fitness group Endurance Sisterhood’s Facebook page. The two congratulated each other and were nothing but positive and supportive, proving what we all already know: this sport rocks.

Finally, we think an elite wave is an excellent addition to this race. To allow faster athletes to charge ahead makes a lot of sense. We hope to see this tradition continue. We do, however, hope to see the overall winners awarded to exactly that: those who did the best, over all others. Furthermore, we believe that time, not the ability to pay an extra $10, should be the only arbiter for overall awards.

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