Weather, flooding causes Ironman to drop swim portion of race Sunday


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – All the flooding has forced the Ironman race to go on this weekend without the swim portion that normally takes place in the Tennessee River.

“They made the right decision not to do the swim. The conditions in the Tennessee River right now are extremely dangerous and it would put not only the spectators in danger, but it would also put emergency management personnel and volunteers that are our there with their kayaks, out their with their stand-up paddle boards in danger too,” Chattanooga Sports Committee President Tim Morgan said.

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Ironman released the following statement:

“Due to significant flooding and record-breaking rains that Chattanooga and the surrounding areas in Tennessee have recently experienced, IRONMAN and local city officials have determined that in the interest of athlete safety, it is necessary to cancel the swim portion of the 2018 Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga triathlon presented by McKee A Family Bakery.

IRONMAN has strict swim safety benchmarks in place that have been surpassed, including the rate of water flow and water quality. There has been a three-foot increase in water levels due to the opening of flood gates upstream, and the opening of a spillway outside of Chattanooga, generating additional flow with a rate three times higher than the limit deemed safe for swimming in the Tennessee River.

Water quality readings for E. coli have also come back at 2,416 (CFU per 100mL of water), more than 20 times higher than safe levels for swimming. Additionally, due to a considerable amount of debris, murky water and the water flow, IRONMAN would not be able to deploy several of the water safety assets that are necessary to ensure a safe swim.

As athlete safety is our paramount concern, we appreciate the understanding based on these extenuating conditions. 

Athletes will be informed of race day procedures for the new bike-run event during the mandatory race briefings at Ross’s Landing. To see the event schedule, visit

We look forward to a great race day.”


The Ironman race isn’t the only event that is being impacted by the weather folks have experienced the past few days.

The Hamilton County Fair was supposed to be this weekend, but the decision was made to cancel the event because of flooding.