Competitors in Chattanooga, Tennessee’s inaugural Ironman triathlon faced two unexpected and troubling challenges during their race on Sunday.
At around 8:30 a.m., just as the swimming leg of the competition was underway, a body was reported in the Tennessee River under the Olgiati Bridge. (Chattanooga Police told WRCB-TV that the person, who has not been identified, was not a competitor in the race.) Then, around noon, race officials reported that tacks and oil had been placed on a section of the cycling route, requiring approximately 30 cyclists to dismount and fix their flat tires while crews cleaned it up. An Ironman official later told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that this method of sabotage is common, especially in rural areas.
At the finish line, 28-year-old Matt Hanson, of Iowa, took first place with a time of 8:12:32, his first overall Ironman victory. Hanson trailed Barrett Brandon and Eric Limkemann during the swim and bike before pulling ahead during the run. He averaged a 5:45 mile pace for the first eight miles.
Similarly, Canadian Angela Naeth was behind the pack during the swim and first part of the bike leg before taking a big lead by the start of the run. She won the women’s field with a time of 8:54:55. It was her first overall victory in a full Ironman event.