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Chicago Marathon Disaster

Posted Sep 14 2008 3:45pm

Chicago_marathon Yesterday, the Chicago Marathon turned deadly, killing one and sending hundreds to the hospital. The race was run in record heat and quite possibly without enough beverages for runners. The race was halted after 3 1/2 hours for safety.

Some quotes from the race:

"I had no water until Mile 8," said Blayne Rickles, 57, of Denver.

"There were people falling all over the place," said Rob Smith, 40, of Naperville, who was running his first marathon."

A hot fall is obviously problematic when it comes to the dangers of heat. In most cases, your body has adjusted to several weeks of cooler weather during training and is simply in a poor position to cope.

As terrible as this run turned out to be, there is one theory that suggests the fatigued runners simply had to stop and put up their feet. I'm not so sure about that.

There was actually some grumbling about the need to call the race from some runners. I can appreciate their disappointment, but as someone who has completed a mountain bike race with a stick impaled through my hand, I also understand that competitive people in a competitive environment often need some help making the right decisions.

Perhaps that is the most important and dangerous part of the effects of heat and fatigue: a reduced ability to make the right decisions. This piece suggests the reason is that fatigue causes you to re-route more of your cognitive functions towards the movement and less away from your decision making. Perhaps not quite that simple...


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