During the last decade, an increasing global popularity of endurance events has been seen, with a particular increase in the number of both half and full city marathons. Although events that promote physical activity are important, particularly from a public health perspective, endurance events also lead to a considerable number of medical emergencies. Despite this, very little is known regarding where serious life-threatening medical encounters (SLTMEs) occur during a race. Also, it is not known if the locations coincide with where runners experience the race as the most exhausting.
Using the world’s largest half marathon (Gothenburg half marathon) as a case, SLTME data collected from the local ambulance provider (over 7 years), and data from runners’ experiences (n=237) is presented. Level of agreement tests are performed and, using the runners’ experiences as a template, specific high-risk clusters are presented.
SLTMEs are shown to be considerably more common towards the end of the race and in uphill sections. By asking runners where they found the race most exhausting, it is possible to identify places where the risk of SLTMEs will be greater and thereby where medical personnel should be stationed. From a practical perspective, using this method could considerably increase the safety of competitors as well as improving the cost-effectiveness of safety interventions at endurance races.
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