August 7, 2011
A 64-year-old man died after having a heart attack during the swimming leg of Sunday’s New York City Triathlon, race officials said. A 40-year-old woman also had a heart attack during the 1,500-meter swim, according the New York Fire Department. She was in critical condition at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
The man, who was competing as part of a three-person relay team, was spotted unconscious in the water about halfway into the swim, according to the race’s director, Bill Burke. A race official confirmed the man was Michael Kudryk, 64, of Freehold, N.J. The swim portion of the competition took place in the Hudson River, starting at a wharf parallel to 96th Street and finishing near the 79th Street boat basin. Race officials got Kudryk onto a fire rescue boat operated by the New York City Police Department, and then into an ambulance at 79th Street, and took him to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
“Nobody goes into this event expecting this type of tragedy,” Burke said. “It’s one of those unforeseen life events that happens when you get this many people to participate in physical activity.”
The medical examiner’s office was expected to conduct an autopsy on Kudryk on Monday. No additional details on the female triathlete were available.
The death is the second in the 11-year history of the race, which incorporates a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10K run, but it raises questions about the safety of the open-water swimming leg of triathlons. In 2008, the 32-year-old Esteban Neira of Argentina, died while swimming in the Hudson. Neira’s death was linked to a condition involving high blood pressure. His death occurred during a year in which at least eight people died during the swim portion of a triathlon. In May of this year, Dr. Michael Wiggins, a 42-year-old who had an irregular heartbeat, died while swimming in the Pelican Fest Triathlon in Fort Collins, Colo.
In 2010 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study assessing the risk of sudden death during triathlons. The study said that from 2006 to 2008, 14 people died while participating in triathlons, 13 while swimming. The report said that seven of the nine of that group that had an autopsy had died from cardiovascular abnormalities. But the study said the challenges caused by open water swims hampered life saving attempts.
“Because triathlons begin with chaotic, highly dense mass starts, there is opportunity for bodily contact and exposure to cold turbulent water,” the report said. “Triathlons also pose inherent obstacles to identifying distressed athletes and initiating timely resuscitation on open water.”
Namgyal Galden, a 27-year-old triathlete from Boston, said choppy water in the Hudson was an added challenge this year. But Galden said the race’s decision to allow only 20 athletes to dive into the water at a time — instead of hundreds — cut down on the usual roughness of a mass-participant swim start.
“It was very easy; you usually get kicked or whacked, and that didn’t happen to me,” Galden said. “I think it’s better than the old system.”
Burke said the race had 53 kayakers, 32 lifeguards, 4 police boats, 3 fire department boats, 2 jet skis and 2 launch boats patrolling the swim. He said each of the boats had paramedic or rescue divers aboard.
“It’s a flotilla of support,” he said.
The swim was not the only portion of the race in which rescue crews were needed. A number of cyclists among the 3,900 participants were sent tumbling on rain-slicked roads. And as temperatures rose into the low 90s on a humid day, athletes suffering from dehydration limped into medical tents.
Ben Collins, who won the men’s race in 1 hour 48 minutes 11 seconds, spent an hour and a half receiving intravenous fluids and cooling down in an ice bath after finishing. Collins broke away from the men’s pro field during the bicycle leg, distancing himself from the prerace favorite Greg Bennett, a four-time New York City Triathlon winner. As Collins walked across the finish line in Central Park, he slunk to his knees and muttered a “Go Lions” in supports of Columbia University, where he was a 2005 graduate.
Rebeccah Wassner won the women’s race, her third straight New York City Triathlon, finishing it in 2:03:19.
Jasmine Oeinck, a professional triathlete from Boulder, Colo., required doctor’s attention after crashing on her bicycle. Oeinck was the first pro woman to exit the water, and rode alongside Wassner. While cycling on a rain-drenched stretch of the West Side Highway near 150th Street, Oeinck struck a pothole and cartwheeled over her bicycle, sustaining deep scrapes on her back and legs, and a gash on her right elbow. She was taken to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital, where she received nine stitches in her arm. “I thought it was just a puddle; turns out it was a pothole,” Oeinck said.
Oeinck said she had heard the news of two competitors having heart attacks. She said that she thought that the triathlon’s increase in popularity had attracted a wider range of athletes to the sport.
“It’s now become a common trend is for people to use triathlon as a way to lose weight,” Oeinck said. “But you go to races and look around, and you start to ask yourself, ‘Is this race too much for that person?’ ”
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
4 38 3 2 49 2 35
his outer personality = 35 = Triathlete.
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