Supporting July 4th Runners At Red White And Boom

Every year, people don running shoes and costumes to celebrate Independence Day by running the Red White and Boom marathon. When the starting gun goes off, volunteer Summit physicians are on the course to make safety the first priority.

Minnesotans know how to celebrate our country’s Independence Day. One of the most popular holiday events in the Twin Cities is the Red White and Boom half-marathon race organized by Twin Cities in Motion. Participants run 13.1 miles through some of the most historic streets of Minneapolis; many dressed in clever—and sometimes hilarious—patriotic costumes. As the runners gather at the starting line, volunteer sports medicine physicians, Drs. Angela Voight and Kirk Scofield, will be in position at the medical tent, ready to offer help to injured runners and spectators.

Dr. Voight’s personal love of running is evident as she discusses Summit Orthopedics’ history of volunteer medical support for Red White and Boom. “As a runner who competes in a lot of races, I love supporting runners and I love seeing them finish events,” she says. “Twin Cities in Motion does such a great job with Red White and Boom, and Dr. Scofield and I have volunteered to provide medical coverage for a number of years now. We’ll be with the medical staff at the end of the race, and other Summit volunteers will join medical techs out on the course to help runners who get into trouble along the way.”

The main concern of the medical staff at Red White and Boom is heat-related illness. Dr. Voight explains that if a runner is going to get into trouble, it tends to happen at the end of the race. “Usually, people will push through even if they are not doing well, to get to the finish,” she says. “If they have been running hard, they may start to feel light-headed and fatigued when they stop. Heat illness can be very dangerous, and must be treated immediately. We’ll be prepared to cool runners down and provide medical coverage for sick runners.”

Dr. Voight offers a number of tips to help runners keep safe. “The main thing to do before a race is to be properly trained and acclimated to heat,” she explains. “A half marathon takes a lot of training. If it’s a hot race day, adjust your goals and your race plan. You can’t run through heat as fast as you can in cooler weather. If you feel nauseous, lightheaded, or excessive fatigue, back off; those are signs of heat illness. Start the race hydrated and stay hydrated—but not over hydrated—especially on a hot day. Red White and Boom is a half-marathon; the risk of over hydrating and hyponatremia is highest in full marathons for runners who take more than four hours to finish. For Saturday’s race, I advise people to drink to thirst, and to drink a bit more if the weather will be warmer than usual. After the race, keep walking until you get your heart rate down, and help yourself to the post-race food and drink. Walking will also help prevent your muscles from cramping.”

Runners’ costumes are a highlight at Red White and Boom, but festive attire should be chosen with care. “People have a really great time dressing up, but costumes can cause problems” says Dr. Voight. “A thick, heavy costume can overheat you or trip you up on the course. We’ve treated scrapes, bruises, and even concussions when people trip over their costumes.” Dr. Voight advises runners with costumes to do a test run in them, and to make sure they can see their feet as they run.

“It’s the Fourth of July,” Dr. Voight grins. “Have fun with your costume—just keep safety in mind. We love the fun-loving atmosphere, giving back to our community, and seeing everyone having a good run. We’ll be there to take care of you; we want you to be festive—and to be safe.”

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