False starts

This discussion has an associated proposal. View Proposal Details here.

Comments about this discussion:


Scott made me aware of the fact that right now, there are no rules about false starts at all for muni. I definitely think that this should be part of the muni rules. A good start would be the rules in other disciplines. The rules for Track and Road racing are almost identical, except for that Track does not allow time penalties. I think muni is closer to Road in this respect, so here are those from Road racing:

4B.5.3 False Starts
A false start occurs if a rider’s wheel moves forward before the start signal, or if one
or more riders are forced to dismount due to interference from another rider or other

4C.1.3 Starter
The starter starts races; explains race rules; and calls riders back in the event of false
starts. The starter is in charge of checking riders for correct unicycles and safety equip-

4D.11 False Starts
There are several options on how to deal with false starts:
•One False Start Allowed Per Rider:
In case of a false start, the heat is restarted. Any rider(s) who caused their personal
first false start may start again. Any rider(s) causing their personal second false
start are disqualified.
•One False Start Allowed Per Heat:
In case of a false start, the heat is restarted. For the first false start of a particular
heat, all riders may start again. Thereafter, any rider(s) causing a false start are
•Time Penalty:
In case of a false start, the heat is not restarted. If a false start occurs by one or
multiple riders, these riders receive a time penalty (such as 10 seconds).

If a heat has to be restarted, the Starter will immediately recall the riders, for example
by firing a gun or blowing a whistle or any other clear and pre-defined signal.
If the race is started using individual starts or heat starts (see sections 4D.9.1 and 4D.9.2)
a time penalty is the recommended option. In the case of a mass start (section 4D.9.3),
any option is viable.




I personally don't see any problems with just copying the road rules for muni (just updating the chapter numbers of course). Please let me know if there is anything else that would need to change.


I think the time penalty of 10 seconds is too much. I would say 5 seconds are enough.


The penalty should be harsh enough to discourage people from a false start. 5 seconds is not enough a penalty. A competitor who is willing to push the rules and officials a little and wants to be in the front of a pack before single track may be happy with only a 5 second penalty.


I agree with Connie. It's a huge advantage to get in front of the pack before single track and for a race that is over an hour long, 10 seconds isn't that much time overall.


I also agree with Connie. The purpose of this rule is to make riders really not want to false start. 


One thing I just noticed, there is no "default" method for false starts only a recommended method. That means that the organizer must communicate to the riders ahead of time what the false start method is. While I agree that the organizer should always do this, it doesn't always happen. As such, I would suggest that we leave the options as above, but add a line like this:

"If no false start method has been communicated by the race director or starter then a 10 second penalty is the default false start option."

This change should probably be applied to Road Racing as well, but let's keep the discussions separate.


I'm more a fan of the Track method (one false start per rider). Time penalties can be absorbed by fast riders and like Connie said, would be a good strategy for getting a jump on the pack before the course narrows. The other difficulty of time penalties is documenting who did the false start, if things happen fast and possibly multiple riders do it. Then it would be like a Presidential candidate saying "Do we have a border or don't we?"  :-)

And I would much rather have a non-optional, "this is how it works" method that we agree to use, so people can learn it and rely on it for future races.

I think the method of one false start per rider will be sufficient, unless people like wasting their time. The start line for these large group races is not as intense as it is for Track races that are decided by split-seconds. After one or two people false start, the group usually decides (on their own) that they don't want to have to restart again, and everybody behaves. Worst case scenario, if too many people are false starting, we then update the rule to the "One false start per heat" method, which has been very effective for Track.

Too bad we have to re-explain so much with the different sub-groups of racing now. In older rulebooks, the basic rules of racing were generic, and then we had details for Muni and Road. But I don't know if that approach could still work well as each of those specialty areas gets more detailed and competitive.


John you make a very good point and could be a great strategy for someone who wanted to get to the single track first especially if they went really early like on the first count  (i.e. 3 on a 3,2,1,go count). 


I agree that giving a 10 second penalty might not be enough of a disincentive to false starting, being able to get into the single track first is a huge advantage.  I think the time penalty would have to be pretty significant to outweigh this.  In practice, I'd imagine the social stigma would prevent people from blatantly doing this, but I'd say for mUni it should only be the first two options (one per heat or rider) and not the third (time penalty).


I would leave it up to the organizer which method is most suitable. For instance, if the XC track starts with a fire road, the 10 sec penalty works fine. If the start is close to a single track, the heat should be restarted. For individual starts, 10 sec penalty is most suitable I think. How about:

"In the case of a mass start or heat starts (sections 5D.7.1 and 5D.7.2), any option is viable. However, if the track narrows down very soon after the start, the time penalty method should not be used. If the race is started using individual starts (see section and 5D.7.3) a time penalty is the recommended option. If no false start method has been communicated by the race director or starter then a 10 second penalty is the default false start option."



At large competitions, we have two different scenarios in my mind (A and B):

A: Uphill and Downhill: Shorter times (under 10 minutes or so) with individual starts. For me, penalties work well with individual starts, and because of the shorter races, 10 seconds is a good amount.

B: Cross Country: Longer times (1 hour or so) with heat starts. In the case of heat starts, I think that a penalty is still the best option. Restarting a heat takes a large amount of time (everyone has to be called back to the start line, get ready, etc.), which can take easily two to five minutes. At Unicon in Spain, we had the elite XC heats starting every two minutes or so. A restart would have been impossible in this situation. However, as John and others pointed out above, 10 seconds may not be enough. I continue my discussion below:

In the case of a false start, I see two different possibilities:

1. An accidental false start. This is the normal case where the rider is trying very hard to start well, and jumps the gun by a very small amount (less than 1 second too early). The rider here has a very small advantage, and thus a 10 second penalty here is reasonable.

2. A purposeful false start. This is the scenario John describes, where the riders starts sooner to get a head start on everyone (for example 3 seconds too early). This head start could easily outway the negatives of the 10 second penalty.

One solution is to allow the starting referee the option to disqualify purposeful false starts. These are really not in the spirit of the sport or the rules. I understand that there is a grey area between 1. and 2., however if a rider's "purposeful" false start is so close to the gun that it is hard to tell from an "accidental" false start, then the 10 second penalty is once again reasonable. A disqualification is only required in the case of a clear purposeful early start.

To summarize, in all muni disciplines at large events, the 10 second penalty option is always the best option in my opinion. Only in the case of long races (XC) with purposeful early false starts is this an issue, and these riders should be disqualified.


I like what Scott suggested.  Have it be a 10 second penalty with the option for the ref to disqualify if it's a blatantly purposeful false start. 


Sounds good to me


I like Scott's assessment of a 10-second penalty for individual start events, because it keeps things moving.

It's potentially more of a problem for mass start events, which increases with the width of the start line. If you have a wide line with 25-50 in the front row, the odds are very much against getting an accurate listing of a sloppy false start, where one person starts early and so everybody else goes when they do. I don't want the job of that official, because their accuracy in such a situation would be hit and miss.

But where Scott brings up the idea of the purposeful false start, one that is seconds too early, that shouldn't be allowed. If we do, we set a precedent for more and more people to do it in each heat afterward. That gets us back to the situation of not being able to track them all. So maybe we need an additional proposal, or something that's just a part of this, to cover seriously early starts. For example, if a race is started with a countdown, such as 3, 2, 1, GO, and a rider moves before the 1, they should just be stopped. Most riders will not have started yet, so it should be less of mess to get everyone back where they were. Seriously, if someone tries to start that early it shouldn't be okay at all. If I were the starting official, I would just yell WOAH! and probably everyone else would still be at the line.

In fact, starting more than a second early should not be permitted for any reason. Do they allow that sort of thing in any other form of racing? Mass start, that is. For individual, interval-timed starts a time penalty is very easy to track and record. But for a mass start, it could get really messy. And we should never allow blatantly early starts. For that reason, I think I still favor the One False Start Per Rider approach. Because it can take a long time to line everybody back up, for those events with timed waves, maybe it should be the One False Start Per Wave method. Those rules work because they really encourage people to behave.

In a long race, nobody should feel the need to be a half second ahead. And if the start is really close to the singletrack, the course is poorly designed and the start line should be moved back. No room? Then the course designers should have figured out not to have large groups hitting that singletrack at the same time. Remember Sweden!


Alright, so everybody agrees with 10 secs penalty for individual starts.

For mass and heat starts, most opinions so far are also in favor of the 10 sec rule (+ DQ for blatant false starts). John brings up some good points favoring the other options. I personally agree more with Scott and think that restarting waves should be avoided at all costs. Identifying the false starter(s) in wide rows should still be possible using video material. And at big events, there are always videos from the start.

Regarding courses getting too narrow too soon, we actually have rules against this problem (5D.7 Starting Configuration).





@Ben: you should include the need of an official video then into the proposal as private videos are not allowed to be used for official decissions. A video can help a lot in those situations but it must be official footage.


Not sure why it has to be official video. Any video should be ok. Is this in the rules somewhere? If so we should update it to modern times now that almost everyone has access to a video recording device. 


Also want to add that if someone had video of someone cheating during a race (running, knocking someone over, etc) that it should totally be ok for officials to watch and disqualify them. 


We updated it in the rules to modern times when we forbid private videos ;)

As nice as video proof is as perfect is it to show stuff that never happen. In a simple case this can be angles that dont show the reality (which you can only aprove if you have several angels from several cameras and see the difference). In worst case it can be manipulated video footage. Only a camera which is placed in the right Angle and offer a good framerate can show you what happen exactly.

However, for running / knocking someone... it is a bit different because angle or wrong speed is not relevant to proof the cheating itself. So it can be good to add a sentence that private video footage, which shows cheating riders while the race, can be used by the race director to make a decission. If this is not written there, the general rule counts which forbid private footage for several good reasons.


There is currently a discussion in the Track and Field committee about using video evidence (although much of it applies more generally since the protest section 1C.10 and 1C.11 is in General Rules and Definitions).  There are some good discussion points brought up for why private videos should/shouldn't be allowed: http://iuf-rulebook-2016.committees.unicycling-software.com/discussions/116


Looking at the discussion about private videos, it is indeed a quite controversial topic. Since it is not solved (yet), we should for now go with Olaf's suggestion. I think it should not be too difficult for the judges to install an official video camera to record the start of all waves. So I think we should require this in the rules.

In addition to filming the start, I think that also at the finish line an official camera should be placed (that could be added to the Finishes proposal).

So cameras would serve multiple purposes: monitor false starts, monitor dismounts over the finish line, possibly decide the winner in case of photo finishes, and also serve as a backup for the timing system. When I think of Spain with all the problems with the timing equipment, additional official cameras would have helped a lot! I think it would be really worth it.




I agree to the words of Ben Soja and the ideas of Olaf.

Please let us not allow private films in our rulebooks.

I don't need the discussions with parents and so ....


The idea to have official cameras in correct angle at the start line and the finish line is o.k.


Yes, official cameras are easy to provide and prevent everybody from things Franz talk about. He seems to know exactly why we forbid them :)


I've been in the discussion in the Track section on private videos. I'm in favor of them, because I have used them successfully in the past as a Track Referee. You guys seem to be afraid of parents, which is understandable, but I never worried about it too much. The Referee (or whatever title) would be the last word in whether to view a video, and/or whether to agree with the video's owner as to its content.

Private video may not be shot from the necessary angle to show the key detail that is in question. But the same is true for any video camera. "Official" video footage has the same limitations as any other, so the idea is that the more video there is, the better chance we have of seeing what actually happened. The Referee also only has one pair of eyes, and can't see every angle either. But she/he should not be required to watch any video other than that which has been required by our rules. Private video would always be an option, and the Referee would still be the final word after this.

Video doesn't lie. If it has been manipulated, that's another story. If we are viewing a video many hours after the original event, the possibility exists that it has been altered. So far, I don't think there are good products out there for doing this on a cell phone, for example. When and if they do become available, we would have to revisit such a rule to see if it were vulnerable to misleading tampered video (or photos).

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