The Canberra Triathlon Festival is set to go ahead in a new ‘dryathlon’ format due to high levels of blue-green algae and bacteria closing Lake Burley Griffin’s Central Basin.
Swimming, diving and bathing have all been banned in Lake Burley Griffin’s Central Basin, East Basin, Yarralumla Beach, Weston Park East and Weston Park West due to high levels of blue-green algae, forcing festival organisers to scrap its swim leg due to health concerns.
The National Capital Authority said its analysis of water quality samples confirmed elevated blue-green algae levels in East Basin and Central Basin and elevated bacterial levels in Weston Park East, Weston Park West and Yarralumla Beach.
The triathlon will now revert to a duathlon format (run, ride, run) with event director Mark Emerton dubbing the event a ‘dryathlon’.
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“We put the health and safety of our competitors as our highest priority and this isn’t the first time the National Capital Authority has been forced to close the lake, so we are always prepared to switch to Plan B,” he said.
“For the popular corporate and community triathlon event, the 200-metre swim will be replaced by a 1km run.
“I know there will be some disappointment for those involved in the swim-leg but the weekend forecast looks perfect and we’re still looking forward to a great, fun day, especially for those who have signed up for their first event of this type.
“With the lake off-limits we’ll now be calling the event a ‘dryathlon’,” Mr Emerton said.
A National Capital Authority spokesperson said the lake’s closures was the first since the recreation season began in mid-October, which is the best seasonal results on record since 2011.
The spokesperson said there is an increased risk of adverse health effects from water exposure.
“Pet owners should not allow their animals to swim in or drink lake water in areas where there are algal scums,” she said. “If contact occurs, wash the skin as soon as possible with water and soap.
“Symptoms of exposure may include skin irritation, flu-like symptoms, and gastrointestinal illness. It is advised to see a healthcare professional if these symptoms occur.”
The NCA will continue to monitor lake water quality as per standard protocols with samples collected weekly.
Online registrations for the event close at 5pm on Wednesday (6 February), although people can still register at the event site on Saturday morning. For more information and to register, click here.