KELOWNA, B.C—Race officials and health care professionals with Apple Triathlon, together with Triathlon Canada, remain on high alert this week due to air quality deterioration caused by the forest fires in British Columbia.
Following the B.C. government’s declaration of the province being in a state of emergency due to the wildfires, Apple Triathlon’s event risk management team will be closely monitoring the air quality situation on an hourly basis in the lead up to the series of races including the 2018 National Triathlon Championships set for Kelowna, B.C, August 18-19.
“The health and safety of every athlete scheduled to hit the start line this weekend is our number one priority, and that is at the core of every decision we make with regards to starting any race,” said Susie Ernsting, Race Director for Apple Triathlon. “While all races are still scheduled to go ahead as planned, our team of professionals is monitoring the air quality index, which is regularly changing. We are optimistic the conditions will be favorable before Saturday, but we will not put any athlete at risk if the conditions are deemed not to be safe.”
The current Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in the Kelowna region is rated at 7, which is considered High Risk. Air quality varies with swift wind changes, precipitation and altering weather patterns – making it very difficult to predict the air quality on race day.
Health care professionals, including Dr. Paddy McCluskey – Triathlon Canada’s team physician and the Chief Medical Officer at CSI Pacific – have counseled race officials to consider adjustments to the race schedule based on the following AQHI levels:
AQHI 9 – 10+: event delayed or cancelled if conditions don’t improve
AQHI 7-8: event delayed or modified
AQHI <7: no modification
Although minor air quality impairments do not typically cause health concerns in most healthy individuals, as air quality conditions become more severe, athletes are encouraged to recognize their own limitations, especially those who have respiratory issues.
“Triathlon Canada takes great pride in ensuring the health and safety of all of our athletes,” said Kim Van Bruggen, Chief Executive Officer, Triathlon Canada. “While National Championships are a major event on our domestic race calendar, we do not take this unfortunate situation lightly, and will not risk the long-term health of any Canadian athlete regardless of age or ability. We applaud local organizers and volunteers for navigating through this unprecedented situation with us, and appreciate the support of the ITU in this decision.”
Athletes, coaches and spectators are encouraged to check e-mail and Apple Triathlon’s social media platforms for daily updates on the situation.
A final decision will be made on race day prior to the beginning of the races. We will try to give athletes as much notice as possible about the race conditions, and we appreciate your patience.
On behalf of everyone at Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada our thoughts are with those who have been negatively impacted by the fires, and our continual gratitude goes out to all those fighting to keep them in control, and ensuring our safety.