Update to our “Hot Marathons” Post

The Madison Marathon was ultimately cancelled.  Below is the detailed explanation the race sent out to participants.  I think they handled the situation very well.  The forecast only got hotter for Sunday (actual high for race day was 94!) and they seemed to at least try to soften the blow by allowing the runners to run the half and providing a credit of $20 towards next year’s race.   What do you think now that they provided this analysis?


MADISON – In accordance with American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, Madison Marathon’s race officials decided to cancel the full Madison Marathon (May 27) due to predicted extreme weather conditions. Race officials include the race director, medical director, course director, and the board of Madison Festivals, Inc. (MFI), the non-profit organization that owns the Madison Marathon.

The forecast predicts temperatures to increase dramatically to the danger one by 10 a.m. and to extreme danger by noon.

“This was an incredibly thought-out decision to make,” said MFI president Rita Kelliher. “It’s heart-breaking for all of us and we understand the runners’ investment of training, fees and travel expenses.”

Kelliher said full marathon registrants will automatically be entered into the half marathon. Full marathoners who choose to run the half will receive a full marathon medal at the finish line. Marathoners can get their marathon t-shirt at the Runners Expo at Monona Terrace (Friday, 4-7 p.m and Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.) or have it mailed to them at their request postage-free. Each full marathon entrant, regardless if he or she chooses to run in the half, will receive a $20 credit for the 2013 Madison Marathon.

The Madison Marathon’s medical director, Dr. David Bernhardt, is an experienced marathoner, Medical facts about what one’s core temperature will be running in heat, humidity, under clear skies with no cloud cover for 3-6 hours regardless of how much one drinks or how many sprinklers one runs through would put all but elite marathoners at risk of heat stroke, collapse or worse.

“Based on race organizers’ 2010 numbers, when high temperatures overwhelmed many runners and overtaxed the race’s medical team and city emergency resources, only one percent would complete the marathon in Sunday’s predicted heat,” said race director Keith Peterson.

“Canceling the race before it starts has a safety advantage for the community because experience from mid-race cancelation shows many participants continue to run on the course after cancelation. This makes it difficult to track and manage runners’ specific medical problems and it further taxes an already overloaded medical system.

The care and transport of collapsed runners on the race course is overwhelmed by the large volume of heat-stressed runners. Response time lengthens and puts runners at risk. More importantly, community access to the emergency medical system may be compromised.

“We want our marathon to be safe for all runners and for the community that supports is,” says Kelliher.

Race officials caution half marathon runners to slow their pace and take breaks in the shade and plenty of fluids. Six medical stations and eight water stations are located on the course, along with medically trained personnel on bikes between stations.

The course will be open until 11:30 a.m., thereby increasing the pace from 14 to 18.5 minute miles.

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Mindi is a serial marathoner. She is a private practice attorney, wife and mom of two awesome (and super fast) boys, ages 12 and 14. She coaches Girls on the Run and is a big advocate of youth running.

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  1. Well, they had me just fine until the “only one percent would complete the marathon based on the heat.” Can’t believe that number, but what do I know. I just ran a 22 miler on a day with a high of 95 degrees. (of course, that doesnt’ mean they shouldn’t have canceled it, it just speaks to where my opinion is).

    That said, an overtaxed medical staff isn’t safe, and those who wanted to, could always run 13.1 on their own in the wee hours of the morning, and then run the second leg with the rest of the group. (an Idea I think i first heard her.)

  2. I think it was a very wise choice. When I ran the Cleveland Marathon on May 20th, it was around 80 when I was finishing just after 10:30, with much less humidity than this past weekend. Even with those conditions, I say many people that had to seek medical attention and I saw at least five people along the way collapse. I can’t imagine how anyone would have been able to tolerate the conditions this past weekend. I am sure people were upset, but in the long run, people could have easily died if they went ahead with the marathon.

  3. My cousin ran for Team Determination, raised a bunch of money for ACS and trained for his first marathon only to be dropped to the half. He had not wanted the marathon canceled. He finished in 1:37 and change for his first half. As a nurse, I truly believe most runners do not know how dangerous it is to push your body in that type of weather (especially the non-elites). Too many think it is better to push until you are forced down, rather than be smart and slow down. He ended up running an amazing time at the Minneapolis marathon this past weekend in much safer and cooler temps.

  4. Allanjel – I totally agree with you. Every runner I have talked to since the race cancellation has agreed that it was the right call. Sometimes, we don’t even know how much the heat may be affecting us until it is too late. I am so glad you cousin had a great race in Minneapolis. I know others that did as well. So good to know that all the hard work can still reap success if done smartly.