Kids of Steel® (KOS) and the Triathlon Youth Development programs encompass clubs, clinics, and races across Canada. Events that qualify for KOS and Triathlon Youth Development status are recognized as safe, developmentally appropriate, and enjoyable activities that stress the importance of lifelong sport, finishing as winning, and healthy activity goals. Kids of Steel® represents the developmental stream that promotes fun, participation, and skill development in children and youth who complete triathlons as part of an active lifestyle. The Triathlon Youth Development Program introduces a competitive option that some athletes may choose to follow in their adolescent years if they wish to pursue higher levels of performance in triathlon. Both streams stress the philosophy of triathlon including:

  • respect for participants of all abilities and experience levels,
  • challenging oneself to new levels of skill and fitness, and
  • a healthy passion for sport and physical activity throughout life.


There are a specific set of rules that apply to Kids of Steel® events to maximize safety and inclusion.  For a complete list, contact your Provincial Triathlon Association.  Some of the more important rules are highlighted below.

General Equipment Guidelines

  • Athletes may use any type of bike in a KOS event.  It is recommended parents get bikes checked for safety (e.g. brake integrity) prior to each KOS event. 
  • Athletes may wear any type of clothing in KOS events as long as they cover their chest and stomach on the bike and run.  
  • Use of wetsuits and certified personal flotation devices in the swim are at the discretion of the race director. Ask BEFORE the event if you have questions.   

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13 & Under Bike Equipment Rules

  • No aero bars are permitted.   
  • Flat pedals and mountain bike-style clipless pedal systems (where the shoe sole touches the ground BEFORE the cleat) with single  or double sided SPD (mountain bike) pedals are permitted.*  
  • See full KOS rules for wheel and gear recommendations. 

No other clipless pedal systems are permitted for athletes 13 years and younger as of December 31st.        

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14 Years + Bike Equipment Rules

  • Draft-legal ** aerobars are permitted.

** Aerobars must not extend forward of the brake levers.  

** Brake levers and gears MUST be fastened to the handlebars, not aerobars.  

  • Flat pedals and ALL clipless pedal systems are permitted. It is recommended that athletes entering the sport at any age use mountain bike-style pedal systems as they are much safer for transition and learning how to use clipless pedals.   

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Bike Equipment Rules: All Ages

Pedal cages, toe straps (old-style “toe clips”), and aerobars that extend past the brake hoods are NOT permitted at any KOS age.

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To Consider

  • Did you know that clipless pedals are not a significant advantage in KOS races? The time it takes to change from cycling to running shoes in transition usually cancels out any time advantage gained on the bike segment. Clipless pedals are most valuable in training to teach a proper pedal stroke.   
  • Most bike frames are designed for adults who have very different core-limb proportions than youth.  Make sure to get the bike fitted properly when you buy a new one.    
  • Do not ignore complaints of knee pain or discomfort particularly if your athlete is growing.  Get it checked out!

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Why Rules?

The KOS rules were developed to promote SAFETY in training and racing. They are NOT in place to level playing fields or produce success in the short term. Kids of Steel® stresses “Every Finisher Is A Winner”. The rules are in place to maximize the chances of every athlete finishing a successful event.   

Distance rules and training guidelines have been developed to ensure LONG TERM physical, emotional, and social health of young athletes. They maximize the chance ALL athletes of all abilities, experience levels, and motivations can enjoy participating in triathlon today, tomorrow, and far into the future - whatever level they aspire to.

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Triathlon Distances

Event distances in KOS and Youth races promote skill acquisition, speed, and inclusion (everyone can finish). Listed distances are MAXIMUMS in each sport. Athletes can race in shorter divisions or lower age groups*, but they may NOT race up in age or distance.   

* with permission from the Race Director

Ages are based on December 31st of the current year of competition.

See exact event distances on our Triathlon Race Distances page.

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Other Events

Other multisport events are becoming popular methods of inspiring children and youth to “tri multisport” in areas that may not have venues for each sport. For example:   

  • Splash n’ Dash (swim-run) 
  •  Duathlon (run-bike-run or bike-run) 
  • Off-road triathlon or duathlon (trail)  

It is recommended “first time” events be significantly shorter than the KOS distances.  

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General Triathlon Rules

The following rules apply to all triathlons for youth and adults. All competitors are expected to know the rules and follow them at all events. 


Athletes must cover their chest and stomach on the bike and run.   


No forward movement using bottom, lane ropes, or walls. Athletes can stop to rest (stand up) but can ONLY move forwards by swimming. No flippers or propulsion devices allowed.  


Helmet must be fastened before touching the bike (after swimming). No riding in transition (walk bike to mount line). Helmet must stay done up until after the bike is racked (after cycling).    


No drafting (riding right beside or behind someone) in KOS races. Athletes must stay 3 bike lengths behind someone unless they are passing.   


No crawling! Walk, jog, or run.   

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