Triathlon Ireland confirm IRONMAN event where two died was unsanctioned due to adverse conditions

Staff Reporter

In the latest development following the tragic passing of two participants at last weekends IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland, Triathlon Ireland have confirmed that the event was unsanctioned due to safety concerns.

In a statement released by the governing body, the CEO Darren Coombes offered his deepest condolences to the families of Ivan Chittenden and Brendan Wall, who both sadly passed away during the swim portion of the event.

Coombes confirmed that in line with normal practice, Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials carried out a water safety assessment and due to the adverse conditions, were unable to sanction the event. Despite this, race organisers IRONMAN did not cancel the swim.


“It was not possible to sanction the race”

With the investigation into the incident still ongoing, Triathlon Ireland were unable to elaborate on what happened, except to confirm that the race had gone ahead despite not meeting the conditions required to pass the water safety assessment by their Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials in attendance.

IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland, Cork

“Triathlon Ireland is reeling from the news that Ivan Chittenden and Brendan Wall, athletes in the Ironman Cork event in Youghal, tragically died yesterday morning while participating in the race. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ivan’s and Brendan’s loved ones.  The triathlon community is a very close community and this loss has had a devastating effect on all of us.

“For the Ironman Cork event, in line with normal practice, Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials attended before the start of the race to review the conditions and carry out a water safety assessment. Due to adverse conditions on the day, Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials confirmed to the race organisers that it was not possible to sanction the race.

“As there is an investigation ongoing, at this stage it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comment only to state that Triathlon Ireland will provide any assistance that the authorities require.”


“Our utmost priority is the safety of our athletes”

Race organisers IRONMAN, in a statement shared with TRI247, explained the precautions they had taken before the event. That included postponing the race by a day from the Saturday to Sunday and then on race day, pushing the swim start back by an hour.

“With all IRONMAN events, our utmost priority is the safety of our athletes and all others involved in the event. The weather conditions were monitored carefully over the IRONMAN Ireland, Cork and IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland, Cork triathlon weekend, with the IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon being re-scheduled to take place on Sunday, alongside IRONMAN Ireland, Cork to provide a safer race for athletes. 

“On the morning of Sunday 20 August, IRONMAN Ireland officials and the specific on-swim safety team carried out all standard safety protocol checks that are completed at every race and determined water conditions were safe for the swim to take place.  

“Due to the prevailing weather conditions, a decision was made, however, to shorten the distance of the swim as a further precaution to ensure that the significant water safety assets – such as kayaks, lifeguards and medical boats – could be concentrated over a smaller area while also allowing swimmers the ability to swim with the help of a more favourable current and incoming tide after the first 100m.   

“Our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of the two athletes who passed. We are providing ongoing assistance to their families and we will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time.”

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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