Man dies while competing in Woodlands Ironman competition, officials say

WOODLANDS, Texas – A 54-year-old man has died while competing in the Ironman competition in the Woodlands, deputies said.

The competition started about 6 a.m. Saturday.

Officials said the man was about two hours into the swim portion of the competition when they noticed he was in distress. 

"You train so much and you just don't know what's going to happen. It's always in the back of your mind that something could happen and as a competitor, you kind of just block it out," Former Ironman competitor Ray Delahoussaye said.

In his six Ironman competitions, Delahoussaye said he's never seen anything like he saw Saturday morning.

"I know they're trying to figure out why but I've never actually seen that happen at a race," Delahoussaye said.

Deputies said the incident happened around 8:15 a.m., just two hours after the swim portion of the Ironman competition began.

"I really just witnessed a lot of people helping him and doing CPR on him for about 20 minutes and paramedics coming down to help him. A couple of bystanders actually jumped in the water to get him," Delahoussaye said.

The 54-year-old man was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died. They still don't know why.

Delahoussaye said it's the last thing you'd expect to see in a race like this.

Thousands started their day off swimming 2.4 miles in Lake Woodlands, then they biked 112 miles through North Harris County. After that, they finished the race with a 26.2 mile run.

But unfortunately, after training for months, one competitor won't be crossing the finish line this year.

"You don't want to see somebody go through that, the athlete or their families, so it's really hard to watch that happening," Delahoussaye said.

Deputies said they will have to wait for autopsy results before they really know what happened to the swimmer.

A spokesperson for the IRONMAN competition released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened to confirm the death of one of our athletes at today’s IRONMAN North American Championship Texas triathlon. The athlete required medical attention during the swim portion of Saturday’s race and was transported to a nearby hospital where they were treated. Our condolences go out to the athlete’s family and friends, whom we have been in contact with and will continue to support. As with any event of this nature, we will work with the local authorities to gather all the details on how this incident occurred and will continue to do everything possible to provide a safe environment for our athletes.”

Officials have not released the identification of the man.

We will update you with more information when we receive it.