Will harmful algae curtail swim portion of this weekend's Ironma - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Will harmful algae curtail swim portion of this weekend's Ironman?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The race is on: Ironman is in Louisville this weekend -- but the real race is for test results on the Ohio River.

In fact, the decision on the swim portion of the triathlon this weekend could come down to what's happening on the water today.

Heart, endurance and drive: Ironman athletes are racing into Louisville for this weekend's triathlon.

"I do it because of the challenge and being able to say that I am an Ironman," said Robert McConnell, an Ironman participant.

"I love it," said Amy Craft. "I love every part of it. I love to suffer a little bit."

The stage is set for a 26-mile run, a 112-mile bike race and a 2.4-mile swim, as competitors from across the country check out the course and ready themselves for the challenge.

"Today I'll run about five miles, then bike about 10 miles tomorrow, to make sure my gear works," Craft said.

"I've heard really good things about the race," said Kimmie Beitzell. "The venue? The swim? Obviously not this year."

The weather looks like it will hold up for Sunday's event, but the big cloud hanging over the Ironman is what's in the water. The Ohio River holds a potentially dangerous algae bloom. The concern is that it might be too hazardous for thousands of swimmers to dive into for that 2.4-mile swim.

"If there are algae blooms, I don't want any part of it," Craft said.

On Thursday, the Kentucky Division of Water collected more water samples. A spokesperson says they anticipate making a determination on whether to lift the advisory late on Friday. If prior lab results are any indication, the race should go as planned. Test results Monday showed algae contents far below the harmful level.

Racers like Robert McConnell say safety is the most important thing.

"Absolutely," McConnell said. "I'm a dad first."

"I would love to know that whenever I get out of the water -- the hours and days after -- I won't have some kind of parasite or something crazy in my body that's going to put me down," he added.

It's the ultimate physical challenge. More than 2,000 people compete in Ironman Louisville.

But more than the athletes, the question now is, will the water pass the test?

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