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Medical Tent Utilization at 10-km Road Races

Injury, Illness, and Influencing Factors


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 12 - p 2451–2457
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002068

Purpose To increase awareness of the need for coordinated medical care at 10-km races and to help direct future medical planning for these events.

Methods We related medical encounter data from nineteen 10-km road races to runner, race, and environmental characteristics. We quantified the most commonly used resources and described the disposition of runners in these encounters.

Results Across the 19 races and 90,265 finishers, there were 562 medical events for a cumulative incidence of 6.2 events per 1000 finishers (95% confidence interval, 5.7–6.8). Race size was associated with an increased incidence of medical events. Overall, the most common diagnosis was heat-related illness (1.6 per 1000 finishers), followed by musculoskeletal complaints (1.3 per 1000 finishers) and fluid–electrolyte imbalances (1.2 per 1000 finishers). For all diagnoses, runners with finishing times in the first performance quintile and in the fifth performance quintile had greater representation in the medical tent than mid-pack runners. Most runners were treated with supportive care, basic first aid, and oral rehydration. Ninety-four runners (1.0 per 1000 finishers) required ice water immersion for exertional heat stroke. There were low rates of hospital transport (0.2 per 1000 finishers), and no fatalities.

Conclusions In 10-km road races, injury rates are low compared with longer races in similar weather conditions. Common medical issues can be managed with basic resources in the on-site medical tent. Green flag start race conditions may not predict race safety with regard to exertional heat stroke risk. There were no deaths in nearly 100,000 finishers.

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA

2Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

3International Institute for Race Medicine, Plymouth, MA

4Boston Athletic Association, Boston, MA

Address for correspondence: Rebecca G. Breslow, M.D., Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 45 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2019.

Accepted for publication June 2019.

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Online date: July 14, 2019

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine