RaceRanger drafting tech throughout Ironman Pro Series in 2024

RaceRanger (Picture: Triathlon Today)

Ironman has partnered with RaceRanger to utilize its electronic drafting detection technology across all IM Pro Series events in 2024, including the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championship women’s and men’s triathlons. Ironman follow’s lots of organizations, such like Challenge Family and the PTO, which have started before using RaceRanger.

Launched in October 2023, the Ironman Pro Series will be contested over 18 designated event locations on the 2024 pro circuit. This includes a combination of full-distance IM and IM 70.3 triathlons. The series will see pro triathletes vie for the title of Ironman Pro Series champion and a share of a US$1.7 million in year-end bonus pool payouts after 12 months of racing.

The IM Pro Series offers an incremental US$1.7 million on top of individual triathlon event payouts, creating a total competitive pro prize and bonus purse of nearly US$6 million in the 2024 season.

Throughout the series RaceRanger technology will give event referees visibility of drafting activity and confirm when athletes are within the draft zone of another athlete. The electronic drafting detection system is powered by Ultrawideband (UWB), Bluetooth, GPS/GNSS, and 4G/LTE technology.

IM triathlons are draft illegal competitions, meaning athletes must be separated on the bike portion of the event by more than 12m. The RaceRanger technology will assist referees with determining whether an athlete is within the parameters of the draft zone, helping enforce competition rules.

The RaceRanger device connects to an athlete’s bicycle in two areas, the front fork and the seat post. Utilizing the sensors within the devices, a light detection system externally indicates whether an athlete is within the 12m drafting zone.

Professional athletes will be able to see these lights to help them understand where they are relative to the drafting zone. Rear RaceRanger units also continuously record data throughout the race, including how long each athlete spends in the draft zone. This data can be accessed by referees and the race organizer after the race.

The RaceRanger devices will be placed on the bikes of all professional athletes racing in Ironman Pro Series events in 2024, beginning with the IM 70.3 Oceanside triathlon on April 6, 2024.

Ironman noted that the RaceRanger devices will not replace race officials, rather they will be a tool to assist referees with rules enforcement and maintaining clean and fair racing. The devices will also help athletes make more accurate in-race decisions on their bike positioning. Drafting penalties will remain a judgement call by the referees.

RaceRanger is the brainchild of ex-professional triathletes, James Elvery and Dylan McNeice who were passionate about finding an accurate and consistent way to identify drafting at triathlon races.

The RaceRanger product has been in development for several years but has gained prominence in the sport recently as the technology has become more sophisticated and accurate. IM pointed out that its Rules and Projects Coordinator, Jimmy Riccitello, has been working with the RaceRanger team since 2018, with various prototypes of the product being tested at select Ironman events since that time.

Jimmy Riccitello said “After years of collaboration and testing, formalizing a partnership with RaceRanger and its team is an exciting next step.

“During testing at the 2023 Ironman Florida triathlon, we saw encouraging data from RaceRanger’s continued improvements, giving us confidence to implement the technology at the 2024 Ironman Pro Series races in an effort to produce an objective draft zone for our professional athletes and referees. We are also glad to have been able to work with James Elvery and team on developments that will allow us to receive and analyze robust data such as the amount of time each athlete spent within the draft zone of another athlete.”

James Elvery, Co-Founder and CEO of RaceRanger, said “After over 10 years in the making, this announcement really is a moment to be proud of for the RaceRanger team. As the largest and most iconic event series in triathlon, operating at Ironman triathlon events has been at the top of our list of priorities from day one and we are excited to support the 2024 Ironman Pro Series.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Jimmy Riccitello and his team since our first introductory call back in 2018. We look forward to working alongside the IM team around the world to improve the fairness of racing, and continuing to develop new functionality into the RaceRanger system.”