By Emily Lavin
Ritch Viola still remembers one of his first triathlons, a local competition on San Francisco's Treasure Island in November 2007.
It didn't exactly go well.
That week, the Cosco Busan spilled more than 50,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the bay, which canceled the swimming portion of the triathlon — the leg of the race in which Viola, who was on the University of California at Berkeley's swim team in college, felt most confident.
On the second mile of the triathlon's biking phase, another competitor cut him off. Viola crashed, and left the race in an ambulance.
"Growing up a swimmer, you don't ever injure yourself, so I was lying there bloody and I thought I was going to die," Viola says, smiling. "But all I had was bruised ribs and road rash."
Still, it was enough to give Viola a moment's pause about the sport.
"At first I thought, OK, maybe this isn't for me. That race was late in the year, so I didn't do another one for maybe seven more months," Viola says.
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