Local News

Chilly weather on Sunday presents unique challenge for Rock 'n' Roll Marathon participants

Posted April 6, 2016 5:29 p.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2016 6:03 p.m. EDT

— Temperatures on Sunday will dip into the 20s in Raleigh for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, causing participants to prepare for unexpected conditions for the April race.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh 5k is scheduled for Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, and the marathon and half marathon will take place from 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

WRAL health team expert Dr. Allen Mask on Wednesday fielded questions about precautions runners should take to combat the chilly temperatures.

Mask said that most runners prefer long distance events like this in cold weather because it actually reduces the risk of heat stress on their body.

However, many people who are "weekend athletes,” without much experience in events like a marathon, do sign up to test their endurance. For them, there could be a few cold weather issues which can be prevented, he said.

In cold weather, body moisture needs to be controlled, so runners should wear socks and other clothing that "wicks" away moisture to avoid bringing down core body temperature.

Mask advised that participants in the races should bring an extra pair of dry socks and dress in layers, like a vest on top of a shirt, so they can remove some clothing if they begin to feel too warm.

Many experienced runners prefer cold weather, due to the rise in body temperature, but chilly temperatures can take a toll on lungs.

“Very cold air can irritate the airways and cause them to constrict which can lead to labored breathing, shortness of breath, a tight chest, coughing and a runny nose,” Mask said. “It helps to wear a scarf around your face.”

“Some of the natural heat and moisture of your breath is captured in the scarf so the air you breathe out isn't all lost to the air.”

Mask said participants should—and still can—get a full physical exam with an urgent care center before participating in a long distance run, which will help detect high blood pressure, irregular heat beat, or asthma.

“Don’t wait until the morning of the run to hydrate your body,” he said. “Drink plenty of water while training, and especially the night before the event.”

In 2014—the inaugural Rock and Roll Marathon—a man died after suffering a heart attack.

Mask urged participants and viewers to look for signs of a heart attack during the event.

He suggested signing up with the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association for CPR training. Only 4 percent of Wake County residents are certified in CPR.

“It helps draw attention to how few people are prepared to recognize the warning signs for themselves, or to be ready to perform lifesaving CPR for someone else,” Mask said.