March 11th, 2018
by Michael Ryan
From wildfires to hurricanes, sudden snow storms and earthquakes, nature has an annoying way of impacting sports events, including races. What should you do as a runner when you face extreme weather conditions that impact your big race?
Even if a natural disaster is expected to interfere with your event and cause cancellation, you should continue to train. You’ll want to be prepared in case it still takes place. If you can’t train outdoors, find a treadmill to run on. While running in inclement weather isn’t ideal, it is possible with proper preparation.
If a race is still held despite a natural disaster hitting the area, be sure it is actually safe to return to that area. If you needed to evacuate before or after a natural disaster, such as a flood or an earthquake, then there is a high chance that damages have occurred. Before even beginning to train outdoors again, you must be aware of any aftermath that could affect your health and safety.
If there was a fire, take advantage of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. This will give real-time updates for air quality. Burning trees and plants can give rise to a cloud of harmful smoke that comprises of fine particle pollution, so this index serves as a great guide for athletes to know whether it is safe to train outdoors or to resume their daily running.
The best option is to run indoors until the area receives an ‘all clear’ signal by local officials.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you must follow these tips if you are about to resume your training.
· Do not come in contact with floodwater: You may be tempted to get back to your outdoor training routine as soon as the weather gets a little better. But the CDC strongly advises everyone to stay away from flood water, which is considered as contaminated. If you end up in contact with it, be sure to sanitize yourself with soaps or use alcohol-based wipes.
· Steer clear of power lines: Do not run anywhere around fallen power lines. Contact your local power company in case you spot any broken lines. The power lines that are the most dangerous can also be above you. Do not touch any dangerous materials and try to stay at home until everything is fixed.
· Pests and Animals: Floods are notorious for triggering all kinds of pests and mosquitoes that can affect thousands of people. Make sure you use a good quality insect repellent, wear long sleeves and socks if you can’t avoid it, and don’t run at night. If you come across dead, wild or stray animals in unusual places, call animal control or report them to your public health department.
Athletes and participants should contact race officials or consult the event’s social media sites to receive the latest notifications of the race status.
If your race is cancelled, there is not much you can do. Most races have cancellation policies that protect them from natural disasters, so they are not required to refund any race fees. Many times, though, they will make an effort to make it up to athletes either by re-scheduling the race for a different date (which happened in the case of Ironman Maryland in 2015) or giving athletes free entry or a reduced rate, or guaranteed entry into the race the next year.
If the race is not rescheduled for a date that comes soon after the original, you could always look for another race so all your training doesn't go to waste. Short of that, you’re only other option is to dig in and help out with the recovery efforts, as there will be many folks that lost a lot more than just a race.
Do not push your limits during or soon after a natural disaster. Wait until the skies and roads are clear to resume your outdoor training routine. In the meantime, contact your loved ones and let them know you’re safe, and hope for better conditions for your next race.
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