Iron Maori triathlon team member dies

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 10/03/2014

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Waitara's Iron Maori triathlon has been marred by the death of a man taking part in Saturday's event.

Race co-ordinator Lee Grace confirmed Barry Whakaruru died not long after he began the final stage of the race.

Mr Grace said Mr Whakaruru was taking part in the triathlon as a member of a team and was about 400m into the walk section of the race before he collapsed.

An emergency services spokesman said an ambulance crew was on the scene about 11am and transported Mr Whakaruru to Taranaki Base Hospital.

Although it is unknown at this stage what the cause of death was, Mr Grace said family members had told him Mr Whakaruru had been sick for a while leading up to the event.

Mr Grace said the whanau and race organisers had found out about the death prior to the triathlon's prizegiving and a public announcement was then made about what happened.

Mr Grace said he and other organisers had visited the whanau yesterday morning at their family home where Mr Whakaruru was lying in state prior to his tangi.

"They are understandably grieving," he said.

About 550 people took part in this year's triathlon event.

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