I’m not the fastest or the fittest, or even halfway there, but I like moving, getting out of my comfort zone, trying out different sports, and I’m certainly not afraid of being the last in a race. Joining a triathlon has been on my secret bucket list but due to the sheer nature of it, I didn’t think that I could actually take it seriously until last week. Yes, last week when a friend who had done the race twice, sat me down and convinced me that it wasn’t all that bad, and that I could and should most definitely try the Sprint category at the PD International Triathlon when I’m ready.
That talk brewed some serious thoughts. Two days later, I hear about the mishaps at the PD Triathlon where Malaysian triathlete Tharm Wei Wong and another participant from Hong Kong, Jeffrey Yuen had died during the swim leg. Now, that leaves me with this: should I be concerned? Should you be concerned if you were considering signing up for a triathlon, just like me?
Sure, the sport isn’t for everyone due to its physically and mentally demanding nature in an uncontrolled environment – at least in the open waters swimming segment. A study by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation in Minnesota found that:
- Deaths and cardiac arrests during a triathlon are not rare events, and the incidence was about 1.7 per 100,000 people.
- Most deaths and cardiac arrests occurred in men who were middle-age and older, and first-time participants.
- Men had a significantly higher risk than women.
- Most sudden deaths in triathletes happened during the swim segment.
- Underlying heart disease or a heart abnormality was present in an unexpected proportion of the people who died.
The data is from about 9 million triathlon participants over a 31-year period. Researchers found a total of 135 sudden deaths, resuscitated cardiac arrests, and trauma-related deaths stemming from collisions during an event. Fifteen trauma-related deaths occurred during the bike segment.
Of the 135 deaths, 107 were sudden deaths and 13 were race-related cardiac arrests in persons who survived because of timely cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation. (Reference: health.clevelandclinic.org)
Although, at this point, there aren’t any official report to explain the cause of the mishaps, we have spoken to some local triathletes on their thoughts about the sport. In this article, the athletes speak about safety, and why it means everything in this sport. Is a dangerous sport? How can you stay safe?