Dhe President of the German Triathlon Union defended the organizers of the Ironman European Championships in Hamburg after the accidental death of a motorcycle pilot. “It can happen in any competition. That can happen to us too. There are other competitions where there have also been fatalities, in the triathlon,” said Martin Engelhardt on Deutschlandfunk (Monday).
The fact that the race was not canceled on Sunday had to do with the “overall responsibility” of the organizers, “also with regard to the safety situation of the overall competition”. “Of course you were also shocked by the accident and of course the death, but you have considered in all directions what the right course of action is now. There were over 2000 people on the route. If they had stopped the whole race now, it would have been relatively unpredictable, according to statements by the main organizers,” said Engelhardt.
Motorcycle pilot died at the scene of the accident
“That’s why, despite all the dismay, including among the people affected, the decision was made to continue the race – with all due respect for the tragic accident that happened there.” Engelhardt said that the decision against stopping the race was made by the team in Hamburg and not, as communicated on the day of the race, the World Triathlon Corporation based in Tampa (Florida). He called the organizers experienced, they certainly didn’t take the decision lightly.
The accident happened 2:25 hours after take-off on a straight stretch parallel to a dike in Hamburg’s Ochsenwerder district. The livestream at ironman.com showed the motorcyclist, with a photographer on his machine, passed other bikes and then collided with the oncoming athlete. According to the police, the 70-year-old motorcyclist died at the scene of the accident, and the athlete (26) was seriously injured. The cameraman (50) on the motorcycle suffered a shock and, like the triathlete, was taken to a hospital.
After the scene of the accident was cordoned off, some of the participants carried their bikes over the adjacent dyke in order to be able to continue. According to Engelhardt, one could argue whether the race, which is also considered a World Cup qualifier, was sportingly regular. However, the athletes have little claim because it is a championship organized by a company, he explained.
The EM was an event of the Ironman series. “These European Championships are ultimately not sanctioned by an association, but run by a commercial company. The sporting value is still there, because top-class sport is practiced there, just like in other sports that are organized professionally.”
40 fewer motorcycles in Roth
The organizers of the Challenge Roth were meanwhile working on a safer traffic concept even before the fatal accident in Hamburg. “In Roth there are no out-and-back routes with oncoming traffic. We always try to choose wide streets and not such dams and cobblestone passages,” Managing Director Felix Walchshöfer told Bayerischer Rundfunk on Sunday. At the event on June 25th in Middle Franconia, no external media representatives will be allowed on motorcycles on the bike course.
Specifically, there are 40 fewer motorcycles, said Walchshöfer. “Months ago, in cooperation with top athletes and representatives of the press, we decided to have far fewer motorcycles on the race track,” said Walchshöfer. Photographers would now be driven to the track from the outside. “So that the slipstream problem is no longer the focus, but of course also safety,” said Walchshöfer.