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Matt Sharpe heartbroken after ‘zippergate’ DQ costs him 70.3 Maine podium place

An unzipped race suit when crossing the finish line proved costly for Matt Sharpe.

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Matt Sharpe has told us of his heartbreak following his disqualification after finishing third at IRONMAN 70.3 Maine on Sunday.

The Canadian was prominent throughout – second after the swim and third after the bike – as Trevor Foley and Gregory Barnaby took first and second respectively.

But he was removed from the results for what IRONMAN termed a “rule infringement”. It emerged that because the zip on his race suit was fully undone – and disconnected – he’d fallen foul of competition rule 5 (i) – but many on social media felt it was a harsh decision.

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‘Really proud of my effort’

Writing on Instagram, Sharpe initially said: “I’m struggling because losing out on a podium is a big deal for someone like myself.

“It’s an opportunity for my supporters @thefeedme, @hewdogracing, @rideshimano, @hedwheels, @blueseventy, @giordanacycling and @coach.lance to enjoy some exposure.

“And I just really wanted to get a result for my family 💔.”

Sharpe moved up from ITU / WTCS racing to middle-distance last season and was the winner of IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder last August.

Matthew Sharpe wins Boulder photo credit Patrick McDermott and Getty Images for IRONMAN
Matt Sharpe winning 70.3 Boulder last year [Photo credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images for IRONMAN]

Zipper rule ‘uncertainty’

We reached out to him the morning after the race to find out more and he told us: “Right after I crossed the finish line at 70.3 Maine yesterday I was alerted by the head referee that I was disqualified for having my suit fully unzipped.

“I tried to show examples of other athletes with their suits undone at a finish but because mine has a zipper that fully unzips (versus still being attached to the suit but fully unzipped) I remained DQ’d.

“It’s a tough situation because on the one hand there is a rule and I’m supposed to know it.

“On the other hand there is a ton of uncertainty around the rule that makes it a bit of a grey area. Like the official could have told me to zip it up upon finishing and that would be fine based on the language of the rule.

“It was definitely heartbreaking for me because of the implications of having a podium for sponsor and brand implications.”

In IRONMAN’s 2023 competition rules document section 5 (i) reads: “Uniforms with a front zipper may be unzipped to any length, provided, that (i) the zipper should be connected at the bottom of the uniform at all times, and (ii) the top of the uniform should cover the shoulders at all times; (DSQ if not remedied promptly).”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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