The impact of the weather on the runners was significant. Cold, wet, and windy conditions produced lots of hypothermia. We had core body temperatures as low as 91 degrees and many in the mid 90s. The bright side to running in the cold and wet was the number of Personal Records (PRs) being set that day. The seasoned runners wore garbage bags on their bodies and shoes until the start of the race. Some had sandwich bags with extra socks to change during the event. Many discarded layers and layers of clothing as the miles went by. Then at 11:13 AM that big yellow ball of heat rose from the clouds and the puddles started to dry up, more clothes were shed and body temperatures began to rise……….. 106, 107, 108.
We had several runners with hyponatremia, hypothermia, hyperthermia, heat stroke, and blisters. In fact, the blisters and abrasions were everywhere due to the rain. We also had more falls and fractures than our average race due to wet leaves, water, and hidden surfaces. We transported 36 runners; there were reports of several more going to the emergency departments on their own later that night.
What is the take home message from this day? When planning, you need to be prepared for anything and everything. We needed last-minute orders for more ponchos for the roaming medical staff. Generators can short out in pouring rain, making lights dim. Floors in aid stations get slippery and muddy and the gear gets muddy. Runners are muddy and very wet. Tape does not stick; walking on crutches can be hazardous. Paperwork and bibs get wet, tear, and can get lost.
You need to be prepared and you need to be flexible. The best-laid plans may have to be scrapped once you cross the start line. The key is having leaders who can make good decisions in short order and having prepared plans that can flex and adjust. We were given less than a 10-minute notice that the VP wanted to come by. The security plan and egress plan for medical had to flex. He then wanted to stay, chat, and congratulate runners (all during the height of the finish). We did take the opportunity to highlight our medical teams—opportunity knocked!
As any of us who plan, coordinate, provide logistics, and support all the other pieces of events can tell you, lots of preparing, planning, formulating, and rehearsing can go a long way to be ready for anything on the big day.