New York Triathlon Claims Two Lives

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer calls for review of city event

August 8, 2011

Yesterday’s yearly triathlon in New York City claimed the life of 64-year-old Michael Kudryk of Freehold, N.J. The death was first reported by the Associated Press.

Kudryk was taken out of the Hudson River near 79th Street at 7:45 a.m. Sunday and was believed to have had a heart attack. The athlete was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to reports in the Wall St. Journal.

Another 40-year old female athlete  of Elmhurst, Ill., was taken to St. Luke’s in critical condition with heart attack symptoms, reported the NYPD. After initial reports that she was still alive, she was declared dead early this morning at the hospital.

The woman, who still has not been identified was pulled from the water after other swimmers around her signaled to race organizers that she was not moving. She had entered the water with 9 to 14 other people, as is the protocol during the swim portions to have groups go in every 10 to 15 minutes.

Twenty-six other people who appeared to be in danger during the swim portion of the triathlon were pulled from the water by police.  Competitors swim for one mile in the Hudson River, bike for 25 miles along the Hudson River Drive, and then run 6 miles, a course that stretches from the Westside Greenway, across 72nd St., and along the drives in Central Park.

Borough President Scott Stringer was quick to condemn the deaths, and called for an “exhaustive review” of the safety protocol of the yearly race.

“New Yorkers signed up for a triathlon – not a game of Russian Roulette,” said Stringer. “Choosing to compete is a decision every athlete has to make for themselves – but it is the obligation of the City to make sure all potential risks are accounted for.”

In a statement Stringer questioned the race’s organizer Bill Burke’s decision to hold the race when weather conditions were not optimal, including “Saturday night rain, choppy water, strong currents, and temperatures exceeding 90 degrees,” and he said he had concerns about Burke’s comments calling the weather  “optimal,” for a race.

Stringer made reference to the death in 2008 of a 32-year-old from Argentina, Esteban Neira, who died of a rare heart condition while competing in the event.

That year the big race made headlines because it was initially believed Neira died from jellyfish stings. Though he hadn’t, scores of other competitors had been stung while in the water, and many reported that hundreds of rats jumped into the water with them when they dove in.

But death from exertion is not uncommon, and the large New York City Marathon that is held every September during cooler temperatures is no exception.

But triathlons for some reason, claim more lives than marathons.

In a study presented at the American College of Cardiology scientific session in Orlando, FL in April 2009 and reported in the New York Times the same year, the risk of sudden death during a marathon is 0.8 per 100,000 people, but is greater during triathlons where the rate is is 1.5 in 100,000.

But even so, the incidence of sudden cardiac death in young adults is estimated to be higher for the general population if they aren’t doing anything at all instead of running a marathon, at 0.9 and 2.3 per 100,000 for non-athletes and athletes, respectively.

By comparison it is much more dangerous to give birth to a child, where deaths are estimated at 13 per 100,000 births, diabetes, 23 per 100,000 population, or best of all, in a car accident where your chances of death are 1 in 6,700.

The city’s triathlon is in its tenth year, and has been growing in popularity, with over 3,000 participants this year. When registration opened up for this year’s event in 2009, the spots were sold old in six minutes, said race director Bill Burke.


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