Distance Running In Extreme Situations

Frank Shorter has an excellent essay in the NY Times titled Running Into TroubleIf you are a long distance runner, you are probably aware that last week’s Chicago Marathon was halted after three hours after dozens of people were hospitalized and one runner actually died. 

I ran Chicago in 2003 and it was my PR by at least 20 minutes (4:05) and an awesome experience.  It’s a great race for first time marathoners which makes the experience last Sunday even more devastating as anyone that has trained for a marathon for the first time knows how emotionally important it is to finish.

Everything I’ve read the 2007 Chicago Marathon so far has been reactive – speculating on what happened and laying out facts and figures.  Shorter’s essay is the first prescriptive article I’ve read – if you are a marathoner or race organizer Running Into Trouble is worth five minutes of your life.

  • Brad, I went to high school with one of the runners that was hospitalized. They said he seemed ok, then just sat down and immediately after, rushed to the hospital. He was put into a medically induced coma and is starting to come back around now…his liver still isn’t working. Almost all of his organs had shut down, but he’s starting to recover, thankfully.

    Definitely a jarring moment…

  • I shudder to think how marathoners will survive the Beijing Olympics. August there is brutal, much worse than Atlanta in 1996.

  • The milwaukee (lakefront) marathon was just as brutal but was not stopped. 90 degrees in Wisconsin in October (and 40 a week later).

    I watched at about 3 hours at the 19 mile mark. No one looked good. People staggering just a few feet from cars.

    One of my friends asked me why not just quit?

    When your 3+ month goal is only a few miles away, it’s so hard to stop. It’s like scaling everest.

    I think it’s important to always have a backup marathon ready to go.