Coming off of the very sad tragedy on Saturday at the Chicago 13.1 I read through the comments on various web sites criticizing race organizations, runners and the "safety" of races. I think anyone who is simply human will keep Mr. Gregory and his clients, co-workers, friends and family in their thoughts. After all, any one of us could be the next Mr. Gregory on any day - in any workout. Sadly, he won't be the last death this season.
What do I mean by that?
Races are not safe. By their very nature, racing - no matter what the speed - we are putting our bodies under stress. That stress has health risks. Risks which need to be taken seriously by all of us, no matter what your age and family history.
Tragically, as we enter "race season" we will also see more deaths to people who had no idea that they shouldn't be racing or should get some kind of treatment. Every year we find out that people drown or had a heart attack during a triathlon swim and never made it out of the water. Large race fields, which make races profitable, also make it hard for lifeguards and officials (if there are enough) to monitor the water. Some races have OUTSTANDING coverage in the water - Elkhart Lake Triathlon is a great example.
A very good friend and former client of mine - five time Ironman and three time Boston Marathon finisher, multiple sub 3:00 - marathoner; had open heart surgery at the age of 37 to replace a valve. How did he find this? He broke his toe a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon and went to get it checked. Thankfully, his doctor said, "You know... this could be nothing. However I'd feel better if you check in with a good cardiologist." He did and there was no Chicago Marathon for him last year. The "signs"? Just the signs of taper - fatigue, hunger late in the day, heavy sweating during workouts.
When I found some melanoma on my arm - the "signs"? Some rough skin. Nothing unusual except in the way that it didn't improve with time. Skin cancer is one of the largest killers of younger people due to the fact that most people "blow it off" until it is too late. It's also the most treatable.
Get a complete physical with a FULL blood panel, a running stress test, an echocardiogram - the full shot. No race or race series is worth dying for.
Another topic... race rules and safety preparations.
PS: later this week - the blog I promised on supplements.