SPRINGFIELD, MA – With the upcoming Ironman 70.3 Western Mass. event set to take place in Springfield on Sunday, preparations are in full swing as athletes begin to arrive. Among the challenges participants will face is swimming through the Connecticut River. However, concerns arise regarding the water’s suitability for swimming.
On Friday, preparations were underway for Sunday’s competition, with staff erecting barricades, marking the streets, and placing buoys in the Connecticut River for the 70.3-mile event. Recent heavy rainfall on May 24 led to over seven million gallons of sewage water and discharge being released into the river. The crucial question now remains: Will the water be safe for athletes to swim in this weekend?
Dave Christen, the Ironman Group’s regional manager, assured Western Mass News that proper testing and monitoring have already taken place. “Yeah, we test it ongoing. We actually tested it yesterday and we’ll get those results today,” Christen stated. “We work on that continuously because it’s a moving body of water, and we want to make sure we have good quality leading all the way up to the last possible moment.”
Organizers expect around 1,400 athletes to participate in the triathlon. To complete the race, participants will descend a ramp at North Riverfront Park, swim to Riverfront Park, cycle to Granville and back, and then run through Springfield and West Springfield. Caitlin Drap, an Ironman volunteer and registered athlete, expressed confidence in the water testing measures implemented before the event. “I know, for a fact, the work at hand. We have nothing but the best people out there taking care of us, so it’s a good security blanket to have,” Drap emphasized. She further noted her belief that rivers, due to their constant flow, tend to be among the cleanest bodies of water.
Additional water testing will occur on Saturday and Sunday while athletes are actively swimming in the Connecticut River. The Springfield Fire Department and local first responders will be present to ensure the safety of all participants.