Running Safety


Running Deaths

All runners know that there are dangerous conditions out there when, dogs, cyclists, lightening, storms…and in Qld snakes! Although we think it’s pretty safe out there, a lot of runners do die, from accident, injuries or unknown causes….they just drop dead!

The reason I’m writing this tip is because twice this week I read about runners dying while out there just minding their own business and trying to stay fit...

Spare a thought for this poor bugger though, running along the South Carolina beach this week and got killed by an aeroplane. yes it crashed on top of him...what are the chances???

And then the 30 something school teacher, running on the road in Alaska and got eaten…yes eaten, by wolves. Apparently she had her ipod in and didn’t hear them coming after her! Those bloody ipods!! It is very rare for wolves to attack people, but they did say that running triggers off the desire to chase in wild animals.

Reminds me of my run in with wild dogs on Fraser Island, three big dingoes chased me into the beach and then wouldn’t let me out. They followed me back on the shoreline, while I tried to run in waist high water…no I didn’t die, but boy the chaffing was a nightmare!

Are you interested to know where running ranks on the sporting deaths chart?

Deaths per million hours of the sport

Skydiving - 128.71
General Flying - 15.58
Motorcycling - 8.80
Scuba Diving - 1.98
Running – 1.9
Swimming  - 1.07
Snowmobiling - 0.88
Motoring - 0.47
Water skiing - 0.28
Bicycling - 0.26
Airline Flying 0.15
Hunting 0.08

I’m surprised at where running is ranked, I thought the swimming would be higher than running, what about all those shark attacks and drowning, or is it just pool swimming? I also thought cycling would be much higher than running!

The London Marathon attracts over 30,000 runners annually. From 1981-2003 there were seven reported cardio vascular deaths in that race. Five of these were caused by coronary heart disease and two were caused by cardiomyopathies. Also over that time 5 runners were successfully resuscitated after suffering cardiac arrests. The average death rate for the London Marathon over 23 years, is one death per 67,000 runners.

Boston, the oldest marathon has only recorded 2 deaths in its 110 year history

Last Year three runners died in the Detroit Marathon/half marathon…a very high number for one race. They were all men aged  26, 36 and 65 and all collapsed within 16 mins of each was not a hot run

When I ran the City to Surf in Sydney 2 years ago, a 28 year old runner just in front of me died very close to the finish line, it is a 14km race

The four major circumstances that lead to marathon runner deaths are; heart disease in runners over 35 years; genetic heart defects in runners under 35; hyponatremia or low blood sodium levels; and heat related illnesses, such as heat stroke.

I know a lot of runners and non runners get stressed when they hear about these deaths and think maybe running brings on heart attacks or cardiac arrests, and that it’s the unfit runners who are pushing themselves too much that drop dead. However, that is not the case. Untrained runners and new runners are not more likely to die from a cardiac event in a running race because they are untrained. If you are unfit and cannot go on, you usually just walk or don’t drop dead! The brain will not allow the body to continue running, and it won’t make it die, it just makes you slow down or stop.

The reality of deaths in running events is that the runner has an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition, that can occur at anytime during their lives but more so if they are putting their heart under stress, as a marathon or half marathon would do. Also not responding to heat stress in time can cause death, which is preventable.

However, it is good to be aware that just because you are a runner and have a high degree of cardio fitness, and maybe in a healthy weight range doesn’t make you immune from the diseases that other unfit people suffer from. Genetic predisposition is still a major factor in diseases of the cardio vascular system, so if you do have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and although you may consider yourself very fit, you still can be a high risk factor for heart disease or heart attack. Therefore you still should have your annual tests and check ups to make sure that all is well.

I am very happy to report that 30 Lazy Runners ran on Maroochydore beach this morning, and no aeroplanes crashed on any of them, however, the sand  grader, got pretty close at times! And as for the wolves..well wear your ipod at you own risk!




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