Special Olympics Canada Winter Sport Rules




The Special Olympics Canada (SOC) Official Sports Rules shall govern all SOC snowshoeing competitions. As a national sports program, SOC has established these rules based upon the International Racing Standards (IRS). The IRS shall be employed except when they are in conflict with the SOC Official Rules. In such cases, the following SOC Official Snowshoeing Rules shall apply.

Section A

Official Events

Developmental Events

  1. 25 metre (Optional at provincial level & below)
  2. 50 metre (Optional at provincial level & below)

National Level Events

  1. 100 metre (running technique)
  2. 200 metre  (running technique)
  3. 400 metre  (running technique)
  4. 800 metre  (running technique)
  5. 1600 metre  (running technique)
  6. 5 kilometre
  7. 10 kilometre
  8. 4 x 100 metre relay
  9. 4 x 400 metres relay

Section B

Rules of Competition

Athletes shall enter a minimum of two (2) official events and a maximum of four (4) official events, plus the relay.

  1. All snowshoes will be measured and checked by the chief of race prior to each event.
  2. Competitors must wear their assigned number in a position visible to the officials at all times.
  3. The Start
  1. At the start of the race, snowshoers must have both tips of his/her snowshoes behind the starting line, which is identified, in the snow with either colour or some form of marking.
  2. All supports, such as blocks or holes, which give an athlete an advantage at the start, are prohibited.
  3. In every event, each division shall be a mass start. There will be no timed interval starts.
  4. When using a curved course, the Race Director must ensure all athletes cover the same distance, either by using a waterfall start or other means dictated by the shape of the course.
  5. Competitors may leave the start area after the start command "Racers ready – Starting Gun."
  6. A false start requires a restart of the race.
  7. The judge giving the start signal is responsible for ensuring that, in all races, no external factor obstructs the course.  If the judge considers that there has been an obstruction, he will immediately give the signal to stop the race and the race will start over.  
  1. The Race
  1. Only the officials and athletes competing in the race are allowed on the course. There will be a designated coaches only  area, no coaches are allowed on the infield.
  2. 100 Metre Races shall be conducted in a straight line.
  3. If during a race a competitor falls, has difficulty with a snowshoe or binding, he/she has two minutes to correct the problem. A competitor who fails to adhere to the two-minute limit or receive assistance of any kind shall be disqualified. Timing of the two minutes is the responsibility of the closest field judge.

Officials can intervene prior to the two minute time limit should they feel the health of the athlete is compromised or there is a safety concern.

  1. A competitor may not progress forward more than three (3) metres unless they have both snowshoes attached to the leg or foot their feet.
  2. Pacing of competitors is not allowed. Pacing is defined as walking or running along with, ahead of or just behind a competitor for more than 3 metres by individuals not participating in the same race. The use of any kind of timing device to advise the competitor of their race time is also considered pacing and is not permitted.

f.   In the 25m, 50m and 100m races, each competitor should keep in the designated lane from start to finish. A competitor shall not be disqualified if he/she leaves the lane unless a material advantage has been gained, or the athlete impedes or interferes with another competitor.

5. The Finish

  1. A snowshoer has finished the race when his/her torso reaches the vertical plane of the finish line. The torso is distinguished from the head, neck, arms, legs, hands and feet.
  2. To be official, a snowshoer must have both snowshoes attached to his/her leg or feet when crossing the finish line.

6. Relay Races

  1. A relay competitor must touch his/her teammate within the exchange zone which will be 20 metres in length. Both competitors must be in the zone at the time of the exchange.
  2. A proper exchange (tag/touch) shall consist of the incoming competitor touching any part of the body of the outgoing competitor with his/her hand. Clothing covering the hand or body will be considered part of that hand or body. Snowshoes are not considered part of the body. Both athletes and their snowshoes must be within the exchange zone when the tag/touch is made, and the tag/touch must occur within the vertical planes of the exchange zone.

7. Disqualification

  1. A competitor or relay team will be disqualified for the following.
  1. Improperly overtaking or impeding another competitor, or in any other   way interfering with another competitor.
  2. Preventing another competitor from passing.
  3. Leaving the designated course.
  4. Making two false starts.
  5. Making an improper exchange on the relay exchange area.
  6. Failing to adhere to the two-minute limit.
  7. Progressing more than three (3) metres without both snowshoes attached to his / her leg or feet.
  8. Crossing the finish line without both snowshoes attached to his/her leg or feet.
  9. Receives physical assistance.
  10. Using improper (not approved) snowshoes or baton.
  11. Being paced or receive timing guidance by an individual not competing in the race.

8. Protest Procedures

  1. Only the registered head coach may file a protest.
  2. All protests must be submitted in writing on the appropriate form to the chief referee within 30 minutes of the posting of the unofficial results.
  3. Protests involving the judgment of an official will not be given consideration.

9. Re-Race

In exceptional occurrences (occurrences that affect the outcome of the race) and regardless of whether there has been a disqualification, the head official has the authority to order a race to be re-held if they consider it just and reasonable to do so.

Section C


  1. The minimum size of the-course must be continuous loop 400 metres in length and seven (7) metres in width. with a course width of at least one metre for each competitor in a race.  The track course shall be prepared so that all parts of the track are similar.
  2. Event specific layout should include the following.
  1. 25 Metre, 50 Metre, 100 Metre Race: Run on a straight course with designated lanes.
  2. 200 Metre Race: Run counterclockwise over a portion of the 400M looped course
  3. 400 Metre Race: Run counterclockwise one lap of the 400M looped course
  4. 800 Metre  Race: Run counterclockwise two laps on the 400M looped course
  5. 1600 Metres Race: May be over varied terrain (dependant on venue) and may use the 400M course as a start/finish.
  6. 5 Kilometre Race: May be over varied terrain (dependant on venue) and may use the 400M course as a start/finish.
  7. 10 Kilometre Race: May be over varied terrain (dependant on venue) and may use the 400M course as a start/finish.
  8. 4 x 100 Metre Relay: Run over the 400M course with each of the four competitors running 100M
  9. 4 x 400 Metre Relay: Run over the 400M course with each of the four competitors running one 400M lap

Section D


  1. The snowshoe frame itself shall not be smaller than 17.78 cm x 50.8 cm (7 inches x 20 inches). This measurement shall be taken from the longest point of the snowshoe and at the widest point of the snowshoe. This measurement will be taken in two dimensions. The snowshoe frame measurement will not be taken along a curved line. Snowshoes shall have frames with at least 2 points on them a minimum of 17.78 cm apart (width) and at least 2 points on them a minimum of 50.8 cm apart (length). These measurements are taken in 2 straight lines in 2 perpendicular dimensions.
  2. Factory installed toe and heel traction claws are acceptable. Snowshoe with factory installed adjustable/interchangeable claws/spikes are also acceptable. The attachment of any additional "spikes" is not permitted.
  3. The snowshoe shall consist of a frame and webbing or solid decking material.
  4. Competitors must wear the same style, brand, type, size (or pair) of snowshoes and type of clothing for divisioning and finals competition of a particular event. In the event a snowshoe breaks and cannot be replaced within the above specification the Chief of Race can grant permission for another type of snowshoe to be worn. If there is a significant change in weather athletes may change what clothing they wear with permission of the Chief of Race.
  5. The foot must be secured through a direct mount binding system to the snowshoe.
  6. Competition footwear may include, but not limited to running shoes, hiking boots or snow boots.

Section E


  1. Officials
  1. Chief of Course
  2. Chief of Race
  3. Starting Line Judge
  4. Assistant Starting Line Judge
  5. Finish Line Judge
  6. Referee
  7. Chief Timer

2. Official Duties

  1. The chief of course is responsible for maintaining proper track dimensions and conditions. Additionally, he/she will oversee the divisioning of all competitors.
  2. The chief of race oversees the competition and ensures that the equipment is legal and the race specifications are in agreement with the official rules.

  1. The starting line judge gives the start signal, "Racers ready – Starting Gun," and the firing of a start gun or drop of a flag once the competitors have lined up. The starting line judge decides whether a start is good or false.
  2. The assistant starting line judge stands ten (10) metres from the starting line and stops the athletes from continuing the race if a false start is declared.
  3. The finish line judge registers the times and race number of the competitors as they cross the finish line.
  4. The referees are assigned to positions along the course to oversee the progression of the race and check for any infractions.
  5. The chief timer is responsible for the direction and coordination of the officials working in the timing area. Supervises manual times and electronic timing, serves as backup referee and assist finish judge.

August 2016