Looking out for you at the finish line

February 25, 2015

Dr. Clayton Holmes
When runners in this weekend’s Cowtown Marathon races cross the finish line, they’ll find a medical team from UNT Health Science Center watching out for their welfare.

“Many runners are ‘hurting’ when they finish the run, whatever the run. Our job is to help identify those in significant distress and get them to the medical area,” said Clayton Holmes, PT, EdD, MS, Chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy. “The medical area is essentially a hospital, set up 50-75 feet from the finish line. For most, we ask that they walk with us. Those who can’t walk, we transport.”

Dr. Holmes is part of a medical team of different specialists from UNTHSC headed by Darrin D’Agostino, DO, MPH, Medical Director of the Cowtown and Chair of Internal Medicine. Holmes’ specific role is to address health care needs at the finish line and immediately after the races.

“Some of the things that I look for at the finish line, and that my team looks for at the finish line, is essentially any runner who is in distress,” he said.

Most people who run marathons tend to be in great physical shape. So careful evaluation and communication is key to identifying those in distress, Dr. Holmes said.

Paleness of the skin and whether the runner is perspiring or not are visible warning signs. More overt symptoms include stomach distress, dizziness and confusion.

“Dr. Holmes and the finish line team he leads has been a game changer for the marathon medical services we provide,” Dr. D’Agostino said. “The last quarter mile can be a dangerous place for runners who have exhausted themselves during the previous 25 miles. Dr. Holmes has a lot of experience with mass sporting events, and he can pick out those runners who are potentially at risk.”

The Cowtown Marathon, held this Friday through Sunday, is the largest multi-race running event in the state of Texas. Founded 37 years ago by UNTHSC, the event has grown to include a kids 5K, adult 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon races. More than 300 UNTHSC faculty, staff and students volunteer for the event each year.

For more information about the Health & Fitness Expo booth, visit the UNT Health Science Center Facebook page.

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