Cowtown Marathon is a family tradition for race’s medical director
By Alex Branch
For Jeff Beeson, DO, a personal connection to the Cowtown Marathon began when organizers planned the inaugural 1979 run.
His father, Don Beeson, was the chief of police at what was then the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, which founded the marathon. During a planning meeting, Don noticed a woman looking at him while sketching on a piece of paper.
Soon after his father became the face of the new race, Jeff Beeson, only 7 years old, rode around Fort Worth setting cones to mark the marathon route.
Almost 40 years later, Dr. Beeson’s connection to Cowtown Marathon has grown. The chief medical officer at UNT Health Science Center is also the race’s medical director, responsible for the health and well-being of more than 20,000 runners who are expected to participate in the two-day event.
A team of about 100 UNT Health Science Center providers and students help care for runners suffering from dehydration, cramps, broken bones, strained muscles and more.
The interprofessional medical teams of students studying to become doctors, physical therapists, physician assistants, pharmacists, medical scientists, as well as nurses and athletic trainers from other schools, staff the marathon’s 24 fluid stations, watching for any runner who needs medical attention.
“The Cowtown is a great example of how our faculty and students are committed to the mission of the Health Science Center: create solutions for healthier communities,” Dr. Beeson said.
The medical issues runners experience during the race range from mundane to unusual to inspiring. A quarter of the medical problems reported in 2018 were caused by cramps. One runner suffered appendicitis near the starting line.
In 2017, three students helped a terminally ill runner with a brain tumor across the finish line of the half marathon.
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Technology has improved the medical care. RaceSafe, an app that streamlines information sharing, allows runners to input their health histories and medical workers to immediately access that information during a race by entering the runner’s bib number.
This is the second year Dr. Beeson has served as the race’s Medical Director. Last year, his father joined him to see the medical team in action. Don Beeson wore his old blue marathon jacket emblazoned with the mustached logo he once inspired.
“I have great memories of participating in the early years of the Cowtown,” Dr. Beeson said. “It is amazing to see what a great community event it has become and an honor to participate in its future.”