I Don’t Even Know What ‘Hyponatremia’ Is, but I Do Not Want It

Part of being a well-prepared marathoner is the physical training. Up the hill. Down the hill. 8 miles. 10 miles. A half marathon. 16 miles. Wind. Rain. Beating sun. You gotta get used to all of that.  Plus, learn to love blisters. 

The other part of being a well-prepared marathoner is to know as much as possible about race day.  What time do I need to be at the start? Where can I park? How many racers are there? When can I expect to see a water stop? How many satellite bathrooms are available and where? And most importantly (I think): what do I do if I get into trouble?

It is no secret that running a marathon is a bit stressful on one’s body and the need for some medical attention on race day is common.  In order to prepare myself, today I read Twin Cities in Motion’s medical procedures for the marathon. 

I found most of the information to be super helpful.  For one, I love a good color-coded system that tells me how the weather conditions may affect runners.  Also, it is good to know that there are over 300 medical staff and they are wearing orange.  This is important.

But some of the information, I found a little more amusing. Or maybe ironic? I am not sure.  Below, in the bolded text  you can read the policy and in the red italicized text you can read my thoughts on that policy.

“Runners who are ill should not start.”
You cannot convince me that there is a single person who signed up for a marathon that is even close to being in their right mind.  All these runners are ‘ill.’

This next part is in reference to their Impaired Runner Policy.

To be allowed to continue the race, a runner must:

a) be able to proceed in a straight path toward the finish line;
This would be easier to do if the race was a straight path towards the finish instead of weaving all over the Cities to add up to an obscene number of miles. I know the distance between Minneapolis and Saint Paul is not 26.2 miles…
b) be able to explain who they are, where they are on the course, and what they are doing;
In the best of health and clarity of mind, I would probably be able to tell you who I am.  But in the middle of a marathon there is no way I am going to know why I am on that course or what I am doing. I am going to think I have lost my mind a long time before any medical professional suspects it. I might already be thinking I have lost my mind.
c) look clinically fit to proceed with good skin color and body appearance
d) be able to maintain a reasonable running posture.
Both (c) and (d) assume you started the race with these things… which just might not be totally true for all of us.

Downed runner procedures:

When a runner goes down during or immediately after the race, the medical team will assess for cardiac arrest, exertional heat stroke, hyponatremia, insulin shock, and exercise associated collapse; begin first aid; and transfer.
Please also assess me for the common medical ailment “Worn the eff out.”

The medical response plan includes advanced life support ambulances and bike teams with automatic defibrillators.
‘Advanced life support?!’ Dear god.

All runners are encouraged to provide family and friends with their race number in case of a medical emergency.

When my race number is assigned, you will likely be able to find it here, in some sort of email with paragraphs upon paragraphs of emergency information, as well as posted to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  I just want to have all my bases covered.  In case something happens. Which it won’t.

Honestly, I am not too worried– I feel healthy, I know my limits and if I get overwhelmed during the race there is no harm in leaving the course. A finisher’s medal is not worth losing my health or knee joints.  And it’s comforting to know all this effort is going in to making sure every racer that day has the healthiest marathon possible.


3 thoughts on “I Don’t Even Know What ‘Hyponatremia’ Is, but I Do Not Want It”

  1. Thanks Cassie! The second best thing about training for the Big Day is getting to share my stories with other soon-to-be finishers! Best of luck in your last weeks of training and hopefully you have no need for those volunteers in orange on race day– especially that mysterious 'advanced life support' team!

  2. Thank you for your reply Katie! I'm excited to create my own stories to share with others as you've done. Thanks for the wishes and your great article!

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