Triathletes question Boulder course safety after deadly Ironman incident

Woman injured in another triathlon speaking out
Posted at 9:31 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 23:31:08-04

BOULDER, Colo. -- A woman injured in a Boulder triathlon last year is questioning the safety of Boulder courses, after a Nebraska woman died during the Ironman Boulder race earlier this month. 

"I had trained really hard that year on my bike," said Virginia Hinds, who has raced in more than a half-dozen triathlons. "I had never been to a triathlon in Boulder. I just knew that so many people said Boulder was such as great place to do races."

During the cycling portion of that race last year, though, a passing rider swerved into traffic, panicked and swerved back, hitting Hinds on her bike.

"So she took out my front tire, and I went over the handlebars," said Hinds, who was in the hospital for a week. "Eleven broken ribs, collapsed lung, clavicle fracture. I had a concussion. Thank God I was wearing my helmet."

The crash threw her body onto the open road, but fortunately, she said, no car was coming.

"I do look at that and say I was lucky, I was very lucky," she said. "Michelle was not lucky, and I think that's one of the reasons I just felt the need to outcry."

After Michelle Walters' death on Aug. 7, several triathletes have spoken out questioning whether courses in Boulder are safe enough.

"There are stretches of 36 where you have, I'm not kidding, about twelve inches of space," said Jeremy Make.

He raced in this year's Ironman Boulder and passed the accident with Michelle Walters.

"I'm sort of a little shaken up just thinking about it. She wasn't moving," said Make, who wrote an editorial calling for change in the Denver Post. "Michelle Walters didn't have to die in vain."

While he said it may not be feasible to completely close highways for races, something has to be done; he suggested closing a lane, redirecting traffic, reducing the speed limit, or erecting fencing to separate cyclists from traffic.

"She died doing a triathlon, and she's 34-years-old," said Hinds. "To not be coming home from that race to me is just unacceptable."

Hinds believes that if the road had been closed during her triathlon, her accident would not have happened.

She and Make said they would not race any more triathlons in Boulder, until something changes.

Walters' parents have also questioned the safety of the course. They held a 5K in her memory last weekend. 


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