Putting the freeze on overheated runners
By Alex Branch
A new tool could help overheated runners cool down at the 2016 Cowtown Marathon.
The UNT Health Science Center medical team will test a TechNiche cooling vest to lower runners’ core temperatures at the Feb. 27 and 28 races. The vests were recently used on cyclists at Tour de France.
The adjustable vest has panels that hold frozen packs — two in the back and two in the side — tightly against runners’ bodies, said Darrin D’Agostino, DO, Cowtown Marathon medical director.
A body temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit that is not responding to usual treatments could trigger use of the vest, especially if the runner is not cooling down well on his or her own or is demonstrating heat-related progressive illness.
“Overheating during a run is one of the dangerous problems a runner can experience,” said Dr. D’Agostino, Associate Dean of Community Health and Associate Professor of Medicine. “They can become hyperthermic. If someone comes into the medical tent too hot, we’ll have the vest to put on immediately.
UNTHSC founded the Cowtown Marathon 38 years ago. A UNTHSC medical team of various specialists have a tent near the finish line to examine and treat runners for everything from scrapes to exhaustion. If the cooling vest is effective, the medical team could use more vests at future races.
The medical team also can place ice packs on overheated runners’ groins and in their armpits, a cooling method used at past races.
Of course, if the weather is anything like last year’s arctic blast that forced the cancellation of some marathon events, overheating won’t be the danger. The medical team will have to keep runners warm.
“Last year, we had a lot of hypothermia,” D’Agostino said. “So we warmed IV bags in a microwave and used them to warm runners’ cores through their large blood vessels.”
“This is Texas, so you never know what the weather will be. But we’re prepared for anything.”