Today, we are going to channel some serious old school: Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler.
You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em, Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run…
Why? The Madison Marathon is on Sunday. Yeah, I know. Madison Marathon + Kenny Rogers = What?!?! But hear me out.
This spring has been another season of hot marathons. Boston, Cleveland and this weekend yet again, a heat wave is due to descend on much of the country, including Madison, WI where the Madison Marathon is set to take place on Sunday. I know a of lot of people who have trained really hard for this race. After months of hard work, they are all ready to knock one out of the park and run a big PR or BQ (or whatever his or her personal goal may be). Personally, I have been looking forward to getting out there on Sunday to cheer them all on.*
But Tuesday afternoon, the Madison Marathon race directors posted this update:
3:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 22. ATTENTION: In accordance with American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, there is a significant chance the Madison Marathon’s full marathon may be cancelled due to predicted high temperatures on Sunday, May 27. A final decision will be made by Friday at 4 p.m.
If cancelled, all full marathon runners will have the option to run the half marathon.
At this point, the half marathon will take place as scheduled (May 27 at 7:12 a.m.). If the full marathon is cancelled, the half marathon course will be open from 7:12-11:30 a.m., giving half marathon runners an extra hour to slow their pace.
This is not a cancellation announcement. A final decision will be made by 4 p.m. on Friday, May 25.
Shortly thereafter, they posted this link: Read the article “Determining a ‘Do Not Start’ Temperature for a Marathon on the Basis of Adverse Outcomes by WILLIAM O. ROBERTS
Why? Because of this:
Yes, it is going to be another hot one here this weekend. So, rather than start and stop the race, directors are considering halting it altogether. In other words, insert string of expletives if this was/is your goal race.
This announcement is coming on the heels of the Green Bay Marathon, which was cancelled last Sunday at approximately 9:30 am (2 hours 30 minutes into the race) due to extreme heat. The Green Bay conditions were very similar to those forecast for Sunday – although it is supposed to be slightly warmer and more humid this weekend.
I have to admit I was a little shocked when I saw the race directors may cancel the marathon altogether this weekend. I have never heard of any marathon shutting down entirely pre-race due to the heat. Sure, they do get cancelled periodically mid-race due to the heat (Madison was shut down in 2006 and 2010), but several days before the race? Unheard of. This could have a huge impact on the 1700+ registered marathon runners. It could also signal a shift as to how race directors will handle high temperatures on race day.
What do I think? Personally, I think they should fold ‘em (cancel it) if the forecast continues to predict extreme heat. While most marathoners are seasoned runners and know to slow down, it is still way too dangerous in my opinion. While we may tell ourselves to slow down, we don’t always listen (myself included). I realize, however, that people have invested a lot of time (training) and money (registration, airfare, etc.) for this race. Not all runners want to, or necessarily need to, hang up their racing shoes due to hot temps. Look at our own Pepper who rocked Boston despite high temps. Of course, the race directors have also invested a ton of time and money into the race. But at what cost if it continues?
So what should the Madison Marathon race directors do and when should they do it? What would you do if it was your goal race? It is a tough call. Would you walk away or run?
BTW If you are old enough, I know you have the song in your head now. It is funny to go back, so click: The Gambler
* I mentioned a while back I wanted to run the Madison half. But common sense prevailed. I am not ready, so I have been taking more recovery time.