Huff, Pant, Sweat: High Heat Shortens the New York City Triathlon

Excessive heat disrupted the New York City Triathlon on Sunday, forcing organizers to shorten the race and make other accommodations for safety.

While organizers kept the nearly mile-long swim in the Hudson River, the 24.8-mile bike leg up the West Side Highway was reduced to 12.4 miles, and the 6.2-mile run largely in Central Park was reduced to 2.5 miles.

Also, because the water temperature had soared to nearly 80 degrees at the start of the race around dawn, wet suits — which many triathletes wear to help with buoyancy and to protect against chilly water — were banned.

Most people finished the race well before the temperatures reached their peak, but organizers acted out of caution for participants, volunteers and emergency workers. While some participants were relieved that the race was shorter, others, some of whom had come from afar, had trained for months for a longer distance.

“I was disappointed, you know, to come down to New York. It would have been nice to have the full one,” Cathy Connell, who is from the Boston area, told NY1.

The race, in its 20th year, has not been held at its full length since 2018.

It was canceled because of high heat in 2019 and because of the pandemic in 2020. Last year, the swim portion was nixed because of concerns about bacteria in the water, which is repeatedly tested in the days before the race.

Danilo Pimentel, who is from Brazil, was the top male finisher with a time of 1:02:10, defeating Andy Krueger of Oregon by 14 seconds. Amy Cymerman was the top female finisher, notching a winning time of 1:08:33.

There were about 1,600 participants. They came from 40 states and 30 countries and ranged in age from 14 to 81.

Hoping to attract racers not keen on the swimming segment, in which people have died in the past, the race included for the first time the option for a duathlon, a run-bike-run race. That race was reduced, too, from a two-mile initial run to one, followed by the 12.4-mile bike and 2.5-mile run.

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