Saturday, June 4, 2011

Get up and go

This is the first weekend of meteorological summer, but you don't need a calendar to tell you the sun's coming up earlier and it's getting warmer. It's the time of year that running becomes more challenging... and dangerous.

A runner died this morning at the 13.1 Marathon -- I hate that name, by the way -- in Chicago. The race was called off somewhere around an hour or 90 minutes after it began, as the temperature was screaming toward the 90s.

I've been in at least one race where someone was overcome by heat and needed an ambulance. And I've been in many races where the heat made things plenty uncomfortable for me, most recently at the Big D Marathon.

Here's the problem: Most races start way too late. This morning I was up to run at 6:30 and it was already bright out, certainly bright enough to have a race. But I'd challenge you to find any events going off that early. Even a 7:30 start is unusual around here.

It's not just locally. Races everywhere start too late. If the sun is up and you can see where you're going, you should be running.

Below is a sample of races around the country this morning. The race that started last also had the highest likelihood of being too cold at the start, so I'll give them a pass. In most cases though, folks are more likely to run into problems with heat from starting late than cold from starting early:

SunriseRace StartNormal HiNormal Lo
Green River Marathon (Kent, WA)5:138:306850
13.1 Chicago5:167:137857
Timberline Marathon (Government Camp, OR)5:218:307048
3 Sisters Marathon (Redmond, OR)5:227:007340
Pilot Hill 25K (Laramie, WY)5:318:006939
Newport Marathon (Newport, OR)5:327:006247
Taste of Louisville HM (Louisville, CO)5:338:007948
Athletic Republic HM (Fergus Falls, MN)5:348:307452
God's Country Marathon (Galeton, PA)5:387:007550
Dam to Dam 20K (Des Moines)5:417:007958
Virginia Wine Country HM (Purcellville, VA)5:467:008157
Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon (Aptos, CA)5:498:307050
Hospital Hill Run (HM, Kansas City)5:537:008160
Sun Valley HM (Sun Valley, ID)5:579:006933
Fight for Air Run (HM, Salt Lake City)5:587:007852
The Spirit of Magic Valley HM (Twin Falls, ID)6:027:307346
Charity Chase HM (Hickory, NC)6:106:308261
Sunburst Marathon (South Bend, IN)6:127:157755

I'm not saying we all need to be lined up at 5:30, but if you're waiting more than an hour after the sun comes up, what exactly are you waiting for?

Of course, there's also the issue of performance. You run faster when it's cooler. Sure, there are races that use heat as a selling point -- there are a couple big ones in Dallas -- and you know going into those that you're pretty much just trying to finish upright. But I think the races above probably want you to enjoy your experience. Dropping dead will surely put a damper on that.

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