New York City's Ironman competitors face swim, bike, run - and sewage

Thu Aug 9, 2012 6:03pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Competitors in New York City's Ironman triathlon caught a break Thursday when health officials said the Hudson River was likely clean enough to host the swim portion of the race, despite the release of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the water.

The race portion of the city's inaugural Ironman competition was threatened when a sewer line broke this week around Tarrytown, about 30 miles north of the city. Repairs required that several million gallons of chlorinated raw sewage be discharged into the river.

Health officials cautioned recreational swimmers, boaters, kayakers and windsurfers to avoid direct contact with the river around Manhattan, where the 2.4-mile (4-km) swim portion of the race is due to take place on Saturday.

The swim will be followed by a 116-mile bike ride on New Jersey highways and 26.2-mile run ending in Manhattan.

But Department of Health spokeswoman Heather McGill on Thursday said the waters would likely be safe for the race, meaning participants once more face the prospect -- for better or worse - of competing over the full 140.6 mile course.

More than 2,500 people were due to race, which sold out 11 minutes after it began taking entries. Race organizers could not immediately be reached for comment on the decision.

(Reporting By Joseph O'Leary; editing by Paul Thomasch and Philip Barbara)

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