Within Wellington Scottish we are lucky to have several hard-working, knowledgeable, and highly qualified officials. Two of them are Alan Stevens and David Lonsdale. In this column, Alan and David put their heads together and answer our questions about the rules of running and walking.

When I'm running a cross country race, and I approach a jump, under what conditions am I allowed to go around the jump, rather than over it? And is it ever permissible for me to go under the jump?

These days course are usually very well marked. If you’re coming up to a horse jump or steeplechase hurdle these will usually be marked leading in and there will be flags at each end that you must go between. You could go under the jump, at your peril from following jumpers – though on an athletics track you cannot go under, as the rules state that you “shall go over the hurdle”. Other jumps, such as the Dorne Cup stream crossings, are similarly marked each side – and you probably wouldn’t want to go elsewhere into deeper water, mud & muck and amusement from waiting spectators!

It's the last 100m of national road relays. The runners from team 1 and team 2 are fighting for the lead, and the runner from team 3 is ten metres behind. The team 1 runner begins to edge ahead and is headed for victory, when the team 2 runner deliberately trips the team 1 runner, who falls. The team 2 runner then crosses the line first, followed by the team 3 runner, while the team 1 runner limps over the line third. Who wins?

There are a number of rules made specifically for the National Road Relay, most of which came as a result of past transgressions, dubious tactics to gain questionable advantages, and so on (like undeclared war!). Many rules specify time penalties that still allow a team to finish: for example, “Notified replacement of an athlete during the event: 7 minutes” (relevant to a certain Scottish team last year!). But clause 10.13 states : “Impeding another athlete or acting in an unsporting manner: TEAM DISQUALIFICATION.”

The last 100m would be under clear observation by officials at the finish line – plus many others. The transgressor, the team 2 runner, would automatically disqualify their team under clause 10.13. If I [Alan] was the Referee and was assured that the Team 1 runner was not about to collapse through exhaustion, was deliberately tripped and would have continued to cross the line first, I then would have ruled that the 10m gap may well have remained and Team 1 should be declared the winner, even though their runner crossed the line third. Of course Team 3 have every right to lodge a protest to the Jury of Appeal “in writing within 30 minutes of the official result and with a fee of $50 – refunded if upheld”. So ultimately if there was a protest, it would be for the Jury of Appeal to decide.

Do you have a question for Alan and David? Can you stump the experts? Send your questions to stkeller30@gmail.com.

by Simon Keller