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Ironman stars 'not at risk' in E.coli outbreak

A HOST of celebrities who are set to take part in the Ironman triathlon next week have been assured that they are at no risk following a recent E.coli outbreak in the area.

A number of high-profile names are set to take part in the gruelling challenge for charity. Among them are Rosanna Davison and Kathryn Thomas.

The event will take place in Galway on Sunday, September 2 and will include a 1.9km swim in Galway Bay. However, the water quality around the area has now been called into question after the local beach was closed due to an E.coli contamination.



Dangerous

Organisers of the Ironman competition have insisted a recent increase in the dangerous bacteria will not impact on the planned event.

A spokesperson for the competition said they were satisfied that the dangerous bacterial contamination, which has led to the closure of Gratten Beach, had not spread to the rest of the bay.

The swimming leg of the triathlon will see thousands of competitors take to the water off Salthill next weekend.

A number of Irish celebrities are set to take part in the event. Former Boyzone star Keith Duffy has taken part in the event in the past to raise funds for Irish Autism Action. He and a celebrity team will return for the event next weekend. They include Kathryn Thomas, Keith Barry, Brian Kennedy, Matt Cooper, Rosanna Davison, Ray D'Arcy and the Seoige sisters, Grainne and Sile.

However, organisers insisted that the planned swim location is far removed from the site of the contamination.

"We're happy that the event will not be impacted. It's our understanding that the swim length is at the far end of the bay and not affected by this," said a spokesperson for Ironman.

She added that the organisers would continue to monitor the situation but were confident that the event would continue as planned.

Eoin McCormack, who is organising the event in Galway, said: "We are at the far end of the bay. The event is still eight or nine days away and this won't affect us in the least."

A total of 1,800 athletes have registered for the event, which has seen an increase in interest from abroad.

The swimming leg of the gruelling triathalon will take place from the Prom in Salthill. Athletes will set off from Blackrock out into the bay and return to Palmer's Rock, along the Prom.

Athletes will then complete a 90km bike ride, finishing up with a 21km run around Salthill.

Locals in Galway have stayed out of the water for the past few days after levels of E.coli were found to have exceeded the EU standard levels.



Hopeful

However, the latest tests have shown that levels have now dropped to well below the EU mandatory permitted levels.

Galway City Council will receive the results of a second test today. If this also shows a decrease in levels the council will then consider reopening the beach.

"We can't say definitively when the beach will reopen but if the tests give us a positive reading we would be hopeful of reopening for the weekend," said Frances Mullarkey, Director of Services with Galway City Council.

However, she added that the public should continue to avoid swimming at the beach until such a time as it is fully confirmed that the water quality has been restored.

ccrawford@herald.ie