The first Rotary Triathlon of Salem had participants running through Riverfront and Minto-Island Brown parks before cycling River Road for 20 or 40km distances and returning for a 5k or 10k run.
MOLLY J. SMITH / Statesman Journal

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when sewage was accidentally released into the Willamette River. It was Sept. 19.

A Salem triathlon dropped one of its events and turned into a duathlon after its lead organizer decided competitors shouldn’t swim a proposed route in part of the Willamette River.

Hundreds of volunteers and racers converged on Salem’s Riverfront Park in the brisk, early morning hours Sunday.

More than 250 volunteered for the triathlon, and around the same number of participants registered, said John Shirley, the race’s vice chair.

The duathlon, put on by the Rotary Clubs of Salem and South Salem, came on the heels of the Salem River 2 Ridge Relay on Sept. 17 that took competitors from the Peter Courtney Minto Island footbridge all the way to Silver Falls State Park.

“It would have been a lot easier to have this event out in the countryside somewhere, where there’s not as much traffic and all that kind of stuff,” Shirley said.

“But we made a conscious effort to have it at Riverfront Park, because that’s Salem’s living room,” he said.

The race’s chair, Robert Chandler, decided Sept. 26 to cancel the swimming portion in the Willamette River.

That’s because of…