During the swim portion of the inaugural New York City Ironman Triathlon, which began 7 a.m. Saturday morning, a 43-year-old man experienced what most are calling "medical distress" or "a medical problem." He was pulled from the water and taken to a hospital, but did not survive. Autopsy results are pending and the man's identity has not been released. The Ironman triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of bicycling, and a 26.2 mile run, in that order. The swimming portion of the race took the eventual winner, Jordan Rapp, 41 minutes and 45 seconds.
The death was preceded by (though probably unrelated to) a strange series of events leading up to the race: on August 9, the AP reported, "Partly treated sewage began gushing into the Hudson River," and that "officials warned against direct contact with the water." The water was chlorinated, but with a massive sewage leak only 15 miles north from the eventual race location (in a river that runs north-south), it seemed that the weekend's Ironman, eight years in the making according to organizers, was in significant danger of being canceled. The same article said that the discharge was expected to continue into the next day, and wind up with "millions of gallons" of raw sewage in the Hudson. Nonetheless, August 10 saw the NYC Department of Environmental Protection give the go-ahead after conducting a series of water quality tests, and the race was saved.
Saturday's untimely death was not the first in even the recent history of triathlons in New York; while this was the first inaugural Ironman United States Championship event to be held in the city, last summer's Nautica New York City Triathlon (unaffiliated with the Ironman) led to two deaths, during the same portion of the event, in the same river. The AP reports, "After a spate of five deaths around the country in two months last summer, a governing body for the sport, USA Triathlon, created a task force to examine the fatalities." After Saturday, they have another on the docket.