Penalties and Disqualification – Stick to the Rules

Penalties and disqualification in Italian Trail Races

by Maria E. Bellini

Whether it’s been translated by Google or a by a human, whether it makes total sense or seems complete nonsense… in your search for the right Italian Trail race you may well stumble upon a small section on the race website dedicated to the ominously worded “Penalties and Disqualification”.

So what will get you disqualified?

What you’ll actually read will depend on many factors – is this a large race with an international field and sponsors? Yes? Good, then you’ll probably have an English version of the website translated by a real human. If you’re looking at a low key event you’ll probably have to settle for all pages in Italian and the help of Google translate. 99% of Italian Trail race websites will have a page dedicated to race rules, but not all will have a penalties and disqualification policy set up.

Lets take one step back and look at the IAAF Competition rules 2016-17  (in the section dedicated to Trail Running) that specifically concern – Race Conduct – (We can find similar guidelines laid out by all Italian sports governing bodies involved in regulating, insuring and issuing race permits for all Trail races in Italy).

There are three main points

“6. If the Referee is satisfied on the report of a Judge or umpire or otherwise that an athlete has left the marked course thereby shortening the distance to be covered, he shall be disqualified.

7. Assistance may only be provided at aid stations.

8. The Organisers of each trail race shall publish specific Regulations setting out the circumstances that may result in the penalisation or disqualification or an athlete.”

So it’s rule number 8 that interests us, and that tells us that it’s up to the race organiser to decide what (other than taking shortcuts), if anything, will merit a penalty or disqualification.

Determining factors

A conscientious race organiser will account for type of race route, length and distance, type of terrain, time of year, altitude, typical weather conditions, safety, isolated parts on the course, resources available, mandatory kit required and environmental factors. There are no set rules, but common guidelines.

But let’s see what actual behaviour could get you into trouble. We’ve taken a cross section of Italian Trail races, analysed rules and regulations and saw that the most common factors for penalties and disqualification were:

  • Litter thrown away along race route
  • Lack of mandatory kit (different items bearing different penalties)
  • Failing to help a fellow runner in difficulty
  • Insults and threats to race staff, marshals and volunteers
  • Using a means of transport
  • Taking shortcuts
  • Exchange of race number/bib with another athlete
  • Race bib not properly visible
  • Failing to pass a check point
  • Having Pacers
  • Refusing to undergo checks by the medical staff along the race route

These were the most common forms of conduct to result in some sort of disciplinary action being taken. Penalties are given in ‘time’ – and again varied from 15 minutes to one hour being added onto the athletes final ranking.

Bear in mind that these are just guidelines, but it’s best to keep them firmly in mind and follow them!

If you’re thinking of entering a race in Italy, why not check out our language guide to the mandatory kit you might require, we cover common items of kit often to be found in race rules requirements with English-Italian translation.

And to conclude…

By the way – Our favourite behavioural misdemeanour, translated for us with the help of an automatic online translator was this one…. referring to racing poles—

“Using chopsticks that weren’t with you at time of start: penalty : 1 hour”


Maria E. BelliniMaria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.

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