This year’s Boston marathon experienced high temperatures (low to mid 80s according to reports), which prompted the race directors to offer deferments for next year’s race. If a runner didn’t want to run in the heat, they could gain entry for the race next year.
I have mixed feelings about the offering of a deferment.
I can see the race directors’ logic. This move will likely cover their asses. If someone is injured or dies as a result of heat exhaustion or stroke, they can claim they offered ample warning including an out. This was a smart move on their part.
On the other side of the coin, this IS a marathon. Not just any marathon… it’s Boston. Unless you’re a charity runner, the qualifying times eliminate slow runners. If you qualify for Boston, you’re in the upper echelon of runners. Doesn’t the Boston Athletic Association go to great lengths to tout this as n elite event? [Note- I am not even close to qualifying for Boston.] If you have the experience and training to qualify, you probably should have the experience to safely deal with heat. It’s not like Chicago a few years ago where you have tens of thousands of relatively inexperienced runners.
Environmental conditions are part of our sport. Running is an all-weather sport. We run when it’s cold. We run when it’s raining. We run when it’s snowing. We run when it’s hot. When you get to the level of a marathon, your training should include dealing with temperature extremes. I have a hard time buying the “It’s too warm to race” rationale. It’s not rocket science- slow down, drink more, make sure your electrolyte balance is in check. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. Stop if needed. As runners, we should be able to take personal responsibility to be prepared for the conditions we encounter.
I know some people will claim it was unseasonably warm, therefore the runners did not have a chance to train in the heat. There are plenty of people that heat train in cold climates. For my first two 100s, I knew I was likely going to encounter temps hotter than the temps I trained in. I spent time in a sauna several times per week. Toward the end, I even did sauna burpees. I habitually over-dressed. I even slept in clothes, damn it!
I really like the fact that Josh Cassidy not only won the wheelchair division, he set the course record. Oh yeah, he set the world record, too. At least someone wasn’t bitching about it being too warm.
Realizing the gray area here, what are your thoughts? Is it unreasonable to expect experienced runners to be prepared for heat? What about you? Are there any conditions you always avoid? What if you qualified for Boston? Would you opt out just because it was too warm?