Keeping you fighting, and running fit

SafeRace, part of Enhanced Care Services, is once again the safety and medical partner of Run Reigate. Here, they talk about medical provisions, how to avoid a race day disaster and what to do if a runner needs medical help.

Tell us about the medical provisions for a race like Run Reigate?

Most runners will probably never realise the scale of the medical team that is in place for a half marathon, 10k or 5k race. At the finish line in Priory Park (where we typically see the most patients), we set up a medical centre which is like an A&E department – complete with Doctors and Nurses and equipment including blood testing. Other medical provisions include a variety of medical teams on hand to offer support. This includes ambulances, cycle responders, specialist Paramedics and treatment posts spread around the route to react to any situation, wherever it occurs. Please do give them a wave as you pass by!

What do you expect to deal with? 

Thankfully, most of the patients we see will only have minor injuries. Cramp, muscle sprains, blisters or some chaffing are all very common all across the route. We also commonly treat runners who have pushed themselves too hard and have overheated, who we need to rapidly cool to a safe temperature. We also have specialist teams available if a more serious emergency occurs. Our detailed research (and personal experience as runners) has shown that collapses are more common later in a race, especially in the final mile. As such, we focus our resources in this area to ensure that our teams can react quickly to offer life-saving treatment, should it be required. Of course, we hope that this won’t be the case!

What is the strangest thing you have had to deal with?

We do see the weird and wonderful at races. I think the strangest call we had was to a fire engine that had tripped over a rhino. Trying to fit the costumes in the ambulance was difficult but trying to explain it on the paperwork was even harder!

How can you avoid running injuries or becoming ill?

Illness and running injuries happen for various reasons, but there are some actions that runners can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming caught out.

During your training before the race, be realistic and adjust your training plan accordingly. Runners often over-train in the early stages and pick up injuries which means they miss out on valuable training closer to the race. Sometimes you will have some difficult training runs, or life’s events may make you miss a session or two.

If it is a hot race day, adjust your times accordingly – that PB is likely to be far harder to achieve; instead, slow down and just enjoy the experience. Wear a baseball cap too.

Listen to your body when deciding when to drink or eat. If you feel thirsty, you should only take one drink from drink stations. If you don’t feel like you don’t need a drink, then don’t take one. Remember you need more than water to replace the salt, so think about some sports drinks, gels or sweets to keep you going.

The Runners Medical Resource’ website is full of useful information and advice: https://www.runnersmedicalresource.com/en/

What should people do if a medical emergency happens?

Most importantly, keep calm and take a second to work out what is happening and evaluate your options.

If it is a minor problem (like cramp), the best thing is for the runner to try to keep moving, even if it is walking. Every water station has medical teams on hand, but if you can’t make it that far then at least aim to get yourself to the next marshal and appropriate help will be arranged for you.

If a serious emergency occurs, your actions to support your fellow runner are crucial. Ensure that someone has rung 999, and also send someone to run to the nearest marshal to get them to summon help. Information such as how far you have rung, or nearby landmarks, are really helpful. If the person is unconscious but breathing, make sure they are turned on their side. If they are not breathing normally, you would need to start CPR. The 999 call handler will give you advice over the phone as to what to do.

Situations like this are very rare. However, if it does happen, the actions of bystanders can be literally life saving.

Remember, all our medical team are here to help you have a safe and successful run. If you need any advice or help at any point on race day, feel free to speak to any of our lovely medics who will be more than happy to help. Good luck!

#RunAsOne #RunReigate2019