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Tragedy for triathletes

March 4, 2013 - Morgan Ryan
Not a great day for triathletes yesterday.

In San Francisco, a 46-year-old man from Austin, Texas died soon after entering the water for the 1.5-mile swim in San Francisco Bay. They seem to think he died of cardiac arrest. It was the first death in the 33-year history of the race.

Meanwhile in England, a 23-year-old up-and-coming triathlete, was killed after getting hit by a car on the third lap of a 6.6-mile cycling road race. Apparently, his bike collided with a car heading in the opposite direction.

Definitely not what either of these guys expected that morning after putting in countless hours to train for the events.

Here are the Associated Press stories about the incidents:

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A 46-year-old Texas man died of an apparent heart attack Sunday in the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay just moments after the start of the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, race officials said.

“We have reason to believe the gentleman suffered from a massive cardiac event as he entered the water and began the swim,” race officials said in a statement.

The race was held three months earlier than previous years and in far colder waters, but organizers said the temperature did not contribute to the death.

“Was it colder than normal? Yes. But in my opinion, the water temperature was not a factor at all in this tragedy,” Bill Burke, the race’s director, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The gentleman obviously had a heart condition he was unaware of.”

Organizers said the death was the first in the 33-year history of the event, which begins with a 1.5-mile swim from the island home of the former federal prison. The swimming portion is followed by an 18-mile bike ride and an 8-mile run through Golden Gate Park and along the San Francisco coast.

The race had participants from around the world ranging from 13 to 80 years old. The winner was Javier Gomez of Spain.

The triathlon’s water safety team noticed the man in distress shortly after the 7:30 a.m. start of the race, the statement said. They performed CPR while pulling him to shore and after reaching land, but he could not be revived.

The unidentified man from Austin was pulled from the water and CPR was performed, but he could not be revived.

“What happened today was very, very sad,” Burke said. “It underscores that athletes need to be checked carefully by a cardiologist before pushing themselves.”

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OLVESTON, England (AP) — A 23-year-old British cyclist has died in a crash with a car during a local race in western England.

Junior Heffernan was fatally injured in a collision with a vehicle during the annual Severn Bridge Road Race near Olveston in Gloucestershire on Sunday.

The race was called off after Heffernan was hit on the third of 10 laps of a 6.6-mile circuit.

British Cycling president Brian Cookson says "this is a tragedy which will profoundly sadden everyone associated with cycling in this country."

Heffernan, who rode for the Herbalife-Leisure Lakes team, also competed in triathlon events.

 
 

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