Sadly, a triathlete died during the swim in a triathlon in Colorado this past weekend. It’s rare to learn of fatalities in while competing in triathlons. Like baseball, softball, 10k races or cycling, we don’t typically associate death with our sport. It’s never news we want to hear here at Triathlon Training Series. We send our sincerest condolences to the wife, daughters, family and friends of the deceased triathlete’s surviving family.
While racing, training and competing in triathlons is serious business, death is a much more serious business all together. Though we don’t pretend to be medical experts or cardiac specialists, we were reminded of a situation not too dissimilar to the unfortunate death of the triathlete in Colorado. It occurred at a well known triathlon in Southern California. A participant with a known heart condition registered for the race, but neglected to fully disclose all medical conditions. This person had recently recovered from a major heart condition. It wasn’t until the diligent lifeguards and EMS evacuated him from the ocean and to the hospital that any knew that the racer had any sort of heart condition. It wasn’t until the triathlete was dead and resuscitated, that race officials and EMS teams learned of his secret heart condition.
A series of questions come to mind when we consider these two situations:
Should triathletes compete in races when they know they have heart conditions?
Should triathletes inform race directors that they do, in fact, have a heart condition of some sort?
Should triathlon race directors have the option, based on their knowledge of heart / medical conditions, to decline race registration?
We’d be remiss if we weren’t clear: Triathlon Training Series is simply posing serious questions that serious triathletes, race directors and readers should at least ask themselves. It definitely does not appear to be a cut and dried situation. This deals with death, safety, human relationships, emotion, health, determination, passion and liability. That is a powerful cocktail of emotions and variables.
Ultimately, we urge you to think, train and race responsibly. It is your decision. As it is the same decision for folks that have heart conditions to race in marathons, 10k races, triathlons and other races without problem. Like we said, this is a complex issue. What do you think? What would prevent you from entering a triathlon?