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How can race organizers prevent amateur athletes from dying?

Should triathletes be forced to prove they are physically fit enough before they're allowed to participate in a race?

It's a prospect a growing number of experts in the triathlon community are considering as a result of a massive spike in interest, according to the New York Times.

Two people died after going into cardiac arrest during the open water portion of the New York City Triathlon earlier this month, which has some convinced it's time to take action to ensure amateur athletes can safely complete the swimming portion of the event.

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Once the domain of elite athletes, triathlons are seeing a surge in participation from casual exercisers of all stripes. The problem is many of them lack the specific training required for such endurance missions, potentially putting them at risk for serious problems.

The main issue is that swimming in open water is much different than in a pool, and many may not realize they aren't prepared for the challenges. For instance, breathing in open water while swimming alongside hundreds of people can create major stresses on the body.

Organizers of the New York Triathlon say they are considering requiring participants next year to have open-water swimming certificates, as well as proof of good health from a recent medical exam.

But it's not just triathlons. Every year, there are stories of people dying during marathons or other tests of endurance and fitness.

As the popularity of such events continue to explode, perhaps it's time to take steps to ensure amateur athletes aren't putting their lives at risk.

Do you think athletes should have to prove they are fit and in good health before being allowed to participate in triathlons, marathons and other high-performance events?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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