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Ironman tragedy claims life of Canadian athlete – Toronto

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Friends and family of a Toronto man are reeling after news of his death during an Ironman event in Ireland over the weekend.

Sixty-four-year-old Ivan Chittenden was one of two people who died during the swim leg of the triathlon. The event had been scheduled to take place on Saturday, but it was postponed by a day due to turbulent weather.

Chittenden, a seasoned marathoner and triathlon competitor, had embarked on a 65th birthday tour.

According to friend and longtime coach Lisa Bentley, the race in Ireland was an event he was looking forward to.

“He was a gentleman. He accepted people as they were,” she recalled. “We’re all richer for it – for having known him – so I feel blessed, and yet sad at the same time.”

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Chittenden began training with Bentley 12 years ago, shortly after the death of his first wife. He was already an accomplished runner.

Bentley says he immersed himself wholeheartedly in the sport of triathlon, constantly striving to reach new heights.

He later remarried and Bentley says the love and support he received from his wife, friends, and triathlon community propelled him forward.

On the Friday before the race, she spoke to Chittenden over the phone. A portion of that conversation turned toward the weather in the aftermath of Storm Betty. A decision to delay the race was ultimately made.

“I said ‘Well Mr. Ivan, you must be prepared to go to that awards celebration because you might get a spot in the world championships.’ And I said ‘Just do your best.’”

Chittenden and an Irish competitor died during the swimming portion of the race. Videos posted to social media show tides rushing toward competitors as they attempt to move forward.

Global News reached out to The IRONMAN Group. A statement reads in part, “On the morning of Sunday 20 August, IRONMAN Ireland officials and the specific on-swim safety team carried out all standard safety protocol checks that are completed at every race and determined water conditions were safe for the swim to take place.”

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It goes on to add that out of an abundance of caution, the swim course was also shortened.

Triathlon Ireland, the national governing body for the sport in Ireland, says in its almost 40-year history, triathlon has an ‘impeccable’ safety record.

A statement issued by CEO Darren Coombes says that technical officials with the organization attended the site before the start of the race and conducted a review of conditions and overall water safety.

“Due to adverse conditions on the day, Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials confirmed to the race organizers that it was not possible to sanction the race,” it read.

“I am not getting into a blame game because it’s not bringing Ivan back,” said Bentley, when asked about Triathlon Ireland’s position. “But you have to think about – are you happy to send your grandmother or grandfather into that race course?”

Bentley, who is herself an 11-time Ironman champion, is now dedicating her efforts to honouring Chittenden’s memory.

“I just want everyone to know that Ivan was an incredible human being. I wish we had talked about Ivan a year ago because I would be telling you exactly the same things.”

Chittenden had recently retired from Ernst and Young.

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In a statement to Global News the company said “We are deeply sad to learn of the passing of retired EY Canada Partner, Ivan Chittenden. He left an impressive legacy, contributing significantly to the firm’s success in a career that spanned 42 years and a variety of roles.”

Triathlon Ireland says an investigation is underway.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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