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Triathlon Death Highlights Risks Of Extreme Sports

A 54-year-old man died last weekend in the swimming competition of the Ironman race in The Woodlands. Experts say participants at at the most risk when they’re in the water.

A recent study looked at 109 cases between 1985 and 2015, where people died while competing in triathlons. The study found that most of the fatalities were men with an average age of around 50. It also found that the majority of those deaths happened during the swimming competition.

Dr. Scott Rand directs the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. He says participants get in the most trouble when they’re in the water. They have to dodge around other swimmers and there’s also the risk of drowning.

“You’re pushing real hard,” says Rand. “Your breathing is not as easy. You can’t really stop and rest as easily as you can on the bike or on the run.”

And Rand says sudden deaths during extreme competitions can also be the result of undiagnosed cardiac issues.

“So if you have a family history of heart disease pay attention to that,” adds Rand. “And make sure you get checked before you decide you’re going to do that level of extreme exertion.”

Rand says training for an extreme athletic event can take anywhere from six months to a couple of years, depending on your level of fitness.

The man who died over the weekend had reportedly participated in several other triathlons.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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