Especially troubling to me is that article 1 quotes professional triathlete Jasmine Oeinck (chosen for the interview because she sustained minor injuries from a cycling accident during the race), who suggests that the problem is that overweight participants compete:
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?'"On an endurance athlete forum, the discussion was similar. Nothing in the article mentioned that either of the participants who had heart attacks were overweight. Maybe they were and that prompted the comment? I think it's wrong to make the assumption that an athlete who dies during an athletic event dies because they are too fat or out of shape. Professional runner Ryan Shay died during the Olympic Trials of a massive heart attack, caused by a preexisting heart condition that went undetected. When I did the Bike to the Bay event a few weeks ago, I saw a very fit man on a stretcher who was also rumored to have had a heart attack during the event.
As I have documented here, I could very well be one of the competitors that Oenick would be worrying about. But I also am very healthy, train very carefully for my events, am an experienced open-water swimmer, and have every confidence that racing is safe for me. Every participant in a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event signs a waiver stating that he or she knows that there is inherent risk involved and stating that her or she has prepared for the event. Sure, some people sign that waiver without reading it, but there is no way to prevent that. Other suggestions like requiring a doctor's note or open-water certification, would be just as easy to subvert and would only add expense and paperwork without making events any safer.
I consulted a statistical chart and it turns out the risk of death in the U.S. is 1 in 1. And though 1 in 6 people in the U.S. will die from heart disease and heart attacks are often triggered by exertion of some sort, that exertion could be having an argument, shoveling snow, or having sex. No one is suggesting that people stop doing those things, though it may be only a matter of time before some expert suggests that overweight people should stop having sex.
(Sorry to the RSS feed readers who now have multiple versions of this many-times-corrected post.)