The swim portion of today’s inaugural New York City Ironman triathlon will proceed as scheduled after a broken sewer line and sewage discharge threatened to cancel that portion of the event.
Organizers for the 140.6-mile (226-kilometer) race, which combines swimming, cycling and running, said the Hudson River passed a water quality test yesterday after a discharge of 3.4 million gallons of chlorinated raw sewage.
The broken sewer line was repaired yesterday afternoon and a health advisory warning swimmers and boaters to avoid the river was to be lifted last night at 11 p.m. local time. Organizers asked experts to analyze the water quality and direction of the current in the Hudson before deciding whether to cancel the 2.4-mile swim leg.
“We’re very excited and we’ll have the real deal in NYC, instead of having Ironman light” John Korff, an organizer for the race, said in a telephone interview. “It’s the Hudson River. It’s one of the great mysteries of the western world, but it’s our river and we love it.”
Canceling the swim would have been a blow for an event that has proved enormously popular, selling out its $895 regular race slots online in 11 minutes more than a year ago. It’s the most expensive triathlon in the Ironman series, as the typical entry fee for a race is about $575.
The sewage was dumped into the river two nights ago in a controlled discharge near Sleepy Hollow, New York, so that repairs could be made to the broken line in Tarrytown. Sleepy Hollow is about 20 miles north of the George Washington Bridge, which is near the finish line for the swim. Another smaller discharge occurred in Yonkers, about five miles north of the bridge, according to the county website.
The Westchester County Department of Health issued an advisory urging anybody using the Hudson for recreational purposes to “avoid direct contact with the water from Croton Point Park and points south until further notice.”
That warning was lifted last night “because the elapsed time since the discharge stopped would have allowed it to dissipate,” the county said on its website.
When triathlon swims are canceled, usually due to bad weather, organizers often add an additional run to create a run-bike-run duathlon, or simply send the bikers off in a time-trial format before the run.
In April, the World Triathlon Corp. canceled the swimming portion of the New Orleans half-Ironman race because of high winds and replaced it with a two-mile run.
“You plan as hard as you can and you don’t know what could go wrong,” Korff said. “We love the Hudson River right now.”