Ironman officials have confirmed that 51-year-old Col. Gene Montague died of a heart attack while participating in Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga in Tennessee. Montague collapsed in the swim and received medial attention in the hospital, where he was brought immediately. Family members say he was in good health and regularly competed in triathlons.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm the death of one of our athletes participating in today’s Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga triathlon,” Ellen Seifert, the public relations director for Ironman, said in a statement (via Chattanooga’s NewsChannel9.com). “The athlete required medical attention during the swim and was transported to a nearby hospital where they were treated. Our condolences go out to the athlete’s family and friends, whom we will continue to support.”
Montague was seen floating during the swimming portion of the race, was pulled from the water and was given CPR.
Family and friends of Col. Montague are posting heartfelt tributes on social media about his passion for athletics and his loving family.
His teammate said Montague was participating in Sunday’s event for Team ZERO that included athletes from all over the country. He was raising money to end Prostate Cancer.
According to a report from ESPN last year, there were 109 deaths in triathlons race between 1985 and 2015. Of those 109 deaths, 76 occurred during or while exiting the swim leg of the race.