Heavy rain and cold temperatures had changed the Ironman 70.3 Switzerland event in Rapperswil, Switzerland to a duathlon, but a landslide and a falling tree early on during the bike segment forced organizers to stop the race and abort the event.
"After a big landslide on the bike course the police stopped the race. Bad for everybody, but safety first," tweeted Ronnie Schildknecht.
Unusually heavy rain in Southern Germany and Switzerland has caused quite a bit of trouble in many communities in those regions and Mother Nature had also impacted a variety of sporting events. There were quite a few complaints when it was announced that the 70.3 Switzerland event and the previous day's ITU Long Distance World Championships event would be run as a run-bike-run event because of the unusual weather conditions, but it is pretty easy to be an armchair quarterback in these situations.
"It was a massive landslide," said Stefan Jaeger, WTC's Director Public Relations Europe, Middle East and Africa. "The road between Schmerikon and Jona was totally closed down."
As it turns out in the 70.3 Switzerland situation, no athletes were injured by the landslide but with many of the 2,300 athletes on the bike course when the slide occurred this could have easily gone the other way. For organizers to halt the race at this time was the absolutely correct call and should not be questioned. Athlete and volunteer safety comes first before any sporting ambitions or goals.
Plus it is not only about sports here. Quite a bit of property has been destroyed and there have been flood related deaths reported in some of these areas, and in Southern Germany at least one firefighter responding to a high water call died in action.
Let us keep these people and their property in mind and remember that it is not always just about our athletic goals, as important as they may appear.