Found on Denverpost.com and written by Tom McGhee
A 34-year-old Ironman Boulder competitor from Nebraska was struck and killed by a vehicle Sunday morning while competing in the cycling leg of the triathlon on U.S. 36 north of Boulder, State Patrol officials said.
The crash killed Michelle Walters of McCook, State Patrol officials said. Walters was struck on U.S. 36 just north of Broadway at 9:54 a.m.
The crash marks the fourth time a cyclist has been killed by a driver in Boulder County since late May.
Event officials released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened to confirm the death of one of our athletes at Ironman Boulder. We are working with the Colorado State Patrol to gather all of the details regarding the incident that occurred on (U.S.) 36 just north of Broadway. Our condolences go out to the athlete’s family and friends, whom we will continue to support.”
State Patrol officials said alcohol and speed are not believed to be contributing factors in the crash, which remains under investigation. The two-lane highway was not closed to vehicles during the cycling competition, but event organizers had marked vehicle and cycling areas using cones.
“We don’t know if she left the cone zone or if the vehicle came into the cone zone. That is all under investigation,” State Patrol Trooper Tim Sutherland said Sunday night.
Officials have not yet identified the driver or the vehicle involved in the crash.
U.S. 36 north of Boulder had not been closed to vehicle traffic during the Ironman race, although it was, for a time, during the investigation of the crash.
That stretch of two-lane road had a shoulder blocked off with cones for cyclists and traffic realigned for the race, Sutherland said.
He said the state patrol has a separate department that handles events like the Ironman, so he didn’t know how the decision was made to use cones instead of closing the road.
Ironman officials did not respond to a request for comment about road closures.
Sunday’s death is the second in two years for Ironman Boulder.
Last year, Brian Godlove, a competitor from Virginia, was taken to a hospital after completing the swimming and cycling portions but not the final running leg. He died three days later at Boulder Community Health. The Boulder County coroner ruled Godlove died from dehydration and rhabdomyolysis associated with excessive exercise. Rhabdomyolysis results from the death of muscle fibers and can be brought about by extreme muscle strain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Untrained athletes are more prone to it, but it can occur in elites, too.
Between 2003 and 2011, there were 43 race-related deaths at various Ironman events sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport’s national governing body.
Five of those 43 deaths were caused by traumatic injuries sustained in cycling crashes. Beyond that, 30 deaths occurred during the swim portion of the race, three during the bike leg, three during the run and two after an athlete had finished the race.