Thousands of endurance athletes prepare to compete in Boulder despite poor air quality

Ironman Boulder 70.3 kicks off on Saturday
Thousands of endurance athletes prepare to compete in Boulder despite poor air quality
Posted at 9:28 PM, Aug 06, 2021

BOULDER, Colo. — The worst is yet to come for Colorado's air quality index. On Saturday, unsafe conditions are anticipated as smoke from California wildfires moves across the Front Range.

While most people are encouraged to stay indoors during Saturday's predicated haze, thousands of endurance athletes will be outdoors for hours.

On Saturday, Ironman Boulder 70.3 triathlon kicks off. Despite the poor air quality, organizers told Denver7 the event is still happening.

"We don't have any current cause for concern for tomorrow, but we will be monitoring the situation closely and making sure we put on a safe event first and foremost," said Dave Christian, a regional director for Ironman.

"Because we do this around the world, we get to experience lots of different air quality during lots of different scenarios. Because of that, we have a lot of really good data and really strict standards as an organization as to what is safe and what is not," he said.

Back in 2014, Ironman officials made a last minute decision to cancel their competition at Lake Tahoe due to unsafe and unhealthy air quality.

Christian added that on Saturday medical staff will be prepared to assess any symptoms that could come with breathing pollutants, like coughing, stinging eyes, runny nose, wheezing and chest pain.

"All of our events around the world have a similar medical plan," he said. "So, we'll have a high level of medical care here to include emergency room physicians, nurse practitioners, doctors of all certain kinds will be supporting the event and advising us throughout the day as we take care of these athletes."

Though the poor air quality is particularly impactful for at-risk individuals, like people with asthma and COPD, experts say heavy outdoor exercise is not recommended for anyone on Saturday, even people who are healthy and don't have underlying conditions.