It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Everyone would meet at Regatta Park in downtown Oklahoma City at the corner of Reno and Lincoln. The race would begin off the docks of the Chesapeake Boathouse with a one lap, 1.5 kilometer swim across the Oklahoma River. The Boathouse International Triathlon would finish up with a 40k bike race and 10k foot race with $30,000 in prize money for the winners.
That was two weekends ago. Now, however, the Oklahoma Department of Health has reason to believe at least 20 of the 376 triathlon participants are sick with "gastrointestinal illness"
Race officials went ahead with the triathlon on May 16-17th even though water tests conducted on May 15th showed an E. coli count of 573 per 100 milliliters of water. The state standard for "primary body contact recreation," where ingesting water is possible, is a count no higher than 126 for E. coli.
State health officials are now asking every triathlon participant to fill out an online health survey.
Oklahoma’s water woes are becoming all too common. Private well water was suspected in last year’s outbreak of E. coli 0111 in Locust Grove, OK. The state’s final report on that can be found here. Contamination from "poultry litter" has been a subject for litigation involving both the Oklahoma and Illinois rivers.