FORT LEE, NJ—The decision to include the swim portion in this year’s Ironman Triathlon US Championship came at around 4-30 Friday afternoon – after acceptable water sample test results.
The decision was also made after Thursday and Friday’s emergency release of 3.4 million gallons of chlorinated raw sewage into the Hudson river.
“I feel that it’s safe. Yea, I do. I really do. It’s gonna be a nice swim. Swim with the current. So it should be nice’, Melton told Pix11’s Jay Dow.
Race Director Victoria Brumfield told Dow, “Athlete safety is our number one concern. We would never put athletes in danger in the swim, bike or run course.”
The Hudson is a tidal river –with serious flow.
But 3.4 Million gallons of raw sewage – that’s a big number.
Even if it is mixed with industrial strength bleach and another chemical disinfectant.
But having already trained for a 2.4 mile Swim, 112-mile bike, and then a full marathon. what’s the significance of a little raw sewage for 25-hundred triathletes?
Tom Lauro, Commissioner of the Westchester Department of Environmental Facilities, tells Pix11 a sewer line break in Tarrytown – just north of the swim start, made the sewage release – unavoidable.
“Once we have a break in that line, there’s only one forced main pipe. There’s no storage tank. Rather than have the raw sewage running into the streets, or backing up into people’s basements, we have an emergency bypass,” Lauro told Dow.
We asked Commissioner Lauro if he could understand why it might be frustrating to know that – having already trained for months for the grueling race…even the possibility contaminated water might serve as an unnecessary distraction.
He replied, “I haven’t done it myself, so I can’t say I understand their frustration level. This certainly wasn’t planned. We were working around the clock to get the situation resolved as quickly as we could.”
Ironman Rookie Carlos Carbonell admits, the sewage release has been on his mind.
Carbonell said, “It’s nerve-wracking because this is my first. But I’ve done a half-ironman in panama, where we swam the panama canal. So, i trust American sewage cleanliness more than a third world country.
Dow asked Carbonell if he was essentially hoping that American raw sewage is better than whatever you had to deal with down in panama.
Carbonell quickly replied, “Yeah, of course, especially New York sewage. Right, it’s a little better than third world country sewage.”
But let’s face it. at the end of the day, raw sewage is raw sewage – is raw sewage.
(MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT JAY DOW’S TAPED PIECE FOR HIS MUCH FUNNIER EXCHANGE WITH CARLOS CARBONELL.)