Thursday, October 11, 2007


It's been 5 days since the Chicago Marathon. Alot of people going back over the events of the day and second guessing. One question or thought that I haven't heard is --- Are these races getting too many runner's? What would have happened on Sunday if the other 10,000 would have shown up?

Sunday's marathon had the best elite finish that I have ever seen. That includes men and women. The times were not world record breaking but the guts and strength were world class. After they finished, TV coverage ended. The next big story of the race was about to begin.

Runner after runner took more than the normal amount of water and Gatorade. There was no way for the volunteers to keep up. Heat exhaustion began setting in. Some out there ran as a whim. Others because they had no respect for the distance and anyone can do it. Others who were truely trained and ready to take on the course.

At about 3.5 hours after the start, heat exhaustion set in for many. There was not much room for the air to move around with all the tall buildings. Many stopped and sat on the curbs. Some sought medical help. Other staggered along, while some runners were running their race the best the could to get to the finish line. Ambulances were called in from all the suburbs that could spare them. One medical tent with 8 nurses saw over 1,000 runners. One nurse alone started 50 IV's. The city was heading for a crisis if many more went down. The race was shutdown. To my friend out there, it became like a war zone. The helicopters were flying overhead. The ambulances were trying to get in from every direction. Runners were laying in the gutters. How much more could the medical community handle?

My friend was turned around at mile 18. There was no reason given and the first thought the way that things looked was that there was a terrorist attack. Eventually they found out what was going on. The Red Cross set up a help line for families to find missing runners- there were over 300 in different hospitals.I could continue with other stories that have nothing to do with the lack of water.

When I volunteered at IM Louisville, the temperature was higher. I think the difference was that the athletes were better trained for the event and there were fewer athletes (2000).

My question still is are these races too big?? What is a safe limit of runners out there if something begins to go wrong.?

Waddling and pondering.......................


Flo said...

I have often wondered that. Here in Hawaii it gets much hotter than that on a regular basis. Even in December the temps for the marathon can get up around 90 with high humidity. The Honolulu Marathon has no limit and they advertise that anyone can do it. You see some people who should not be out there doing this marathon. And they take so long. The race starts at 5 a.m. but if your are really, really slow you're still out there at noon and now it's blazing hot. Nothing like Chicago has ever happened at the Honolulu marathon but it's really only a matter of time. It definitely is kind of scary.

Irene said...

There's so many takes on the whole event. I think many people trained and were prepared for it, but even the best athletes succumb to fatigue and awful weather conditions. We saw it first hand at the AFC Half Marathon, here in San Diego. We witnessed all levels of of runners get sick from the heat, one guy we'd see all the time at other races who always puts in an awesome run - he passed out... Thank goodness the race was finished before it got too hot. There was a 3 hour time limit. In addition, the registration was limited to a certain number of runners, so there wasn't chaos or the chance of running out of water or electrolytes. Sure, runners took more than their usual amounts of liquids at the Chicago event, but the event coordinators should have been better prepared. I kind of think the event was bigger than the city of Chicago could handle, especially with not so great weather conditions. This was making me wonder if I should start running events without my hydration belt, but I guess this just proves that I should carry it any way, just in case!

So much to ponder and so much to debate!

Mommymeepa said...

Did your friend have to cross the finish line? My friend was turned around at mile 21 and they bused her to the finish line and had her cross it. I think that's so they can say more people finished they did. The news reports that 24,000 people finished, but they are counting people like my friend in that count. I have another friend that was turned around at mile 15 and another around mile 18. Very disappointing, very disappointing. I'm just glad the people I know are ok. Glad your friend is OK. Take care, Melissa

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

I've been wondering what went wrong too. Seems like it was bigger than they could safely handle.

Vickie said...

Coincidentally, I compared IM KY with Chicago too, having been there myself. I said exactly the same thing: it was hotter than Chicago, yet...everyone managed. Same with IMCD'A in 2006. The high temp of the day was 100 degrees, with a heat index of 115, and while there was a higher than usual number of dropouts, still, they did not run out of things. I would say numbers play a big part in races. The reason the IM races are limited is obviously to make it manageable, regardless of unforeseen circumstances. With a marathon of over 45,000 expected, and a high heat advisory, that changed the entire management of the race. I don't really know what the answer is for preventing something like this from happening again. Most likely, it won't. And it would be impossible to plan for such an event, when it is highly unlikely it would happen on a regular basis. Its just unfortunate all the way around.

WADDLER26.2 said...

My friend did not get past the 18 mile marker. Luckily she had money and went in to a gas station and bought gatorade. She is thinking of running the Iowa marathon in 2 weeks.

Joe said...

Good thoughts.

One of the reasons I'm tending to avoid the mega-races. Even though I'd LOVE to run past Wrigley Field.

Just too much heat, too many people, too little wind...all conspiring on one single day.