Comrades Marathon is a challenging race, and your body will give you signs all
day what it can or can’t do, and what it needs. These signs include looking for
water or something to eat, or a warning to slow down, or even stop entirely. “The
aim is to enjoy the race and finish in a reasonably healthy state. It is your
body, and your responsibility to care for it!” says Dr Jeremy Boulter, convenor of the Comrades Medical Panel.
“Be sensible, take note of what is happening to yourself and make responsible
decisions. If you start running into trouble, rather pull out before it is too
late. It has become apparent over many years that people feel it is more
important to finish the race than to be concerned about their health.”
that, Dr Boulter says no runner who cannot continue on their own should be
carried. “Runners who collapse after they have finished, even if they require
urgent medical attention, will almost certainly recover fully, but those who
collapse during the race are most probably suffering from a very serious and
potentially fatal condition. So while the support and encouragement of fellow
runners is an intimate part of the race, this has led to runners being helped
and carried when they should have stopped running and sought medical help. Any
runner who is unable to move forward under their own power will be prevented
from continuing and medical attention will be called for.”
After many years of involvement in the race, Dr Boulter has compiled a
simple but effective list of medical do’s and don’ts for runner to stick to:
DO drink enough: Hydration is refreshing and
prevents heat-related illnesses; dehydration can cause headaches, nausea and
DO eat: You need sugar in your blood and
liver glycogen, so having a snack on route is essential, but take small
portions to avoid cramping or indigestion.
DO listen to your body: If you’re cramping up, readjust and
slow down. If you are experiencing something worse, like chest pains or extreme
nausea, seek medical attention immediately.
DON’T run if you are not properly
prepared: If you
don’t feel you can finish the race, rather don’t start. There’s always another
DON’T run if you have been sick or
on antibiotics in the three weeks prior to the race: Running while drugged up on flu
meds is a danger to your health!
DON’T take ANY medication during the
race: Painkillers or
anti-inflammatories will not cure pain or an injury, they will only mask the
pain temporarily. Worse still, they may cause kidney failure after the race!
DON’T be afraid to bale: You will only make it worse by
continuing when your body says it really can’t go on.
AFTER THE BIG FINISH
adds that it is important to start the post-race recovery process immediately.
“Make sure that you take in adequate
fluid to correct any minor level of dehydration, and monitor your urine output.
If you have not been passing much urine during the race, it may be due to the
presence of a hormone called ADH, which can be caused by physical stress. If
so, you will start passing large amounts of urine very soon after finishing. If
you continue to pass very little, or none at all, by late that day or night, it
may be indicative of a kidney problem. You should then seek medical attention.”