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Friday, May 27, 2011
Marathon officials ready for the heat – And urge runners to be prepared
FOR RELEASE: Immediately
May 27, 2011
Communications Director, RunVermont
Marathon officials ready for the heat –
And urge runners to be prepared
With the weather expected to be unusually warm during Sunday’s KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, event organizers are ready to turn their attention from flood waters to drinking water in preparation for the heat. They are also urging runners to be well-prepared and asking for help from homeowners along the course, who can offer runners welcome relief by putting out their garden hoses.
As of Friday, the National Weather Service predicted temperatures in the upper 60s at the 8:00 a.m. start and in the low 80s at 2 p.m. as the tail end of the marathon pack approaches the finish – 10 to 15 degrees higher than normal for the date in Burlington.
In the unlikely event that the heat is extreme at 7:45 a.m. – meaning 82 degrees or higher “wet bulb globe temperature” (WBGT) as measured by a special device that factors in temperature, radiant heat and humidity – the organizers are prepared to make the difficult call to cancel the event. Once the event starts, officials will continue to monitor the WBGT and will display color-coded signs at aid stations to alert runners to the current level of danger due to heat. The alerts range from a green sign indicating “good conditions” to a black sign indicating “extreme conditions.”
With an eye on the weather forecast, marathon organizers are bolstering their supplies of water and electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks to the water stations spaced no further apart than every two miles over the 26.2-mile course. In addition to emergency personnel distributed throughout the course, medical expertise is available at two tents – one at the finish line and one at the halfway point in Oakledge Park.
“Thanks to good planning and a lot of hard work, we are well prepared for whatever the weather wants to throw at us,” says RunVermont Executive Director Peter Delaney. “Now we want to be sure that the runners and even the spectators are aware of what they can do to make this as safe an event as possible.”
All of the effort is aimed at protecting runners from endurance-sports illnesses, including dehydration, which results from drinking too little during exercise; hyponatremia – a dangerous condition involving an imbalance of sodium in the bloodstream that results from excessive sweating and drinking too much water; and heat stroke, a life-threatening condition.
Marathon officials offer detailed advice to runners in a “Medical Information Sheet” distributed with registration packets. Key advice includes:
• Drink at least 16 ounces of fluid 1-2 hours before the race.
• Drink another 16 ounces of fluid in the hour before the race.
• During the race drink no more than 1 cup (8-10 ounces) of fluid every 15-20 minutes along the way - that does not mean a cup at EVERY water station. Water/Sports Drink stations are located throughout the course. Drink a sports drink that contains sodium. Do not rely solely on water.
• Do not overhydrate, which could lead to hyponatremia.
• Do not restrict salt in your diet. Examples of high sodium foods are potato chips, pretzels, tomato juice/sauce, chicken noodle soup, chicken broth, and Gatorade
• If possible, avoid taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen), or any anti-inflammatory medications before, during or immediately after the race. Tylenol may be taken safely.
Organizers are also asking runners to pay special attention to filling out the emergency information on the back of their runner’s number, which will alert medical personnel to health information and provide emergency contact information.
Even with all the preparation – including months of rigorous training – organizers are also asking participants to keep the race in perspective as they consider the risks.
“In the end, it’s only a race – one race,” said competitive runner and coach Jess Cover. “The athletes I’m coaching have goals that they’ve been working toward for a long time – but I’m telling them to pay close attention to their bodies and to ease up if the heat is getting to them. It’s just not worth hurting yourself.”
The runners can get a break from the heat with the help of homeowners along the course – especially in the New North End, where many runners will be navigating the course in the afternoon. Homeowners can help the runners by running a hose to the street and either leaving it flowing or offering to spray weary runners.