Penn Yan, New York (Combined News Services) ~ Peasantman Steel Distance Triathlon organizers yesterday disqualified a centaur from this year’s event, citing safety concerns and explaining that the extra limbs would give the participant an unfair advantage.
Billy Trotter, a centaur from nearby Canandaigua, had been registered as a swimmer for a relay team. However race organizers cited an obscure equine rule in claiming an unfair advantage because of too many limbs.
Trotter, 36, had gone to Geneva Bicycle Center last week for a wetsuit fitting when a savvy employee noticed the hooves and extra limbs. After repeatedly explaining to the centaur that a custom 4-legged-2-armed wetsuit would not be possible, concerned employees decided to place a call to Peasantman founder Joe McMahon, who immediately disqualified Trotter.
The decision by McMahon has created friction between centaur supporters – who saw this opportunity as a giant gallop forward – and triathletes, who prefer to adhere to strict rules. Trotter’s supporters claim that swimming would actually be more difficult with hooves than with hands, though studies have routinely disputed such claims. “I could see if he was doing the bike or run part, but this is the swim,” said one neighsayer, who wished not to be named. “You can’t cup your hooves while swimming. This decision is ridiculous.”
Triathletes, however, maintain that the four hooves plus two hands would in fact create a serious advantage during the swim. They are also concerned with safety, citing the risk of getting kicked in the head by hooves. “I don’t want to swim with a centaur next to me, that would be crazy,” said triathlete Lisa McWilliams. “It’s probably all just a big publicity stunt anyway, like he just wants to be the centaur of attention or something.” Other triathletes have expressed their concerns that centaurs are typically known for playfully slapping people in the face, tickling them, bonking them over the heads with clubs, or dunking them in water.
McMahon, in a statement released to the media yesterday, stressed athlete safety as the primary deciding factor. “Centaurs have been known for centuries to carry weapons, such as bows and arrows. That, combined with four hooves and slap-happy hands, could make the swim extremely dangerous. Although USAT rules make no requirement of banning centaurs from competition, I must, as a USAT race official, consider athlete safety. Therefore I had no choice but to make this call. We will return his entry fee.”
This controversy is not without precedent. The fiasco is reminiscent of the 2016 Buffalo Marathon, when herds of buffalo protested the decision to allow humans to participate in the event. And just last year, a zebra mussel slithered across the finish line at Musselman and demanded a medal.
At press time, Trotter reiterated his desire to resume his career as a champion polo player later this summer.