Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Runners: Don't Drink the Water

There’s disturbing news out of Sin City that may radically change the way a runner approaches a race or, at least, a marathon. Health officials are digging through runners’ post –race poo to get to the bottom of things. I’m not shitting you. And they are not just finding full corn kernels, undigested peanuts, and granola. BEWARE: There was something in the water at the Las Vegas Marathon:

LAS VEGAS -- Health officials are testing stool samples from runners in the Rock `n' Roll Marathon in Las Vegas who say water passed out during the race made them sick.

Southern Nevada Health District officials are testing for stomach flu and other diseases, and expect results later this week. An online survey they've posted has already drawn responses from more than 800 participants.

The Dec. 4 event drew about 44,000 participants, who paid up to $179 to run a half or full marathon. Dozens of runners posted stories on Facebook about nausea, vomiting and severe stomach pain after the race.

Race organizers had filled plastic-lined garbage cans with hydrant water, which was used to fill cups offered to racers along the course – a standard practice, marathon officials say. Volunteers wearing plastic gloves dipped cups into the garbage cans before passing the water to runners.

While some runners complained that the water tasted odd or unclean, Las Vegas Valley Water District officials say the hydrant water was tested and found to be safe days before the race.

Runner Charlene Ragsdale, 50, said she became violently ill during the half marathon and was treated for hypothermia and dehydration at a hospital.

"We've got to find an answer to keep this from happening again," Ragsdale told the Review-Journal. "I think (the health district) realizes they're looking for a needle in a haystack."source

As you know, I’m not one to overreact but it seems pretty clear to me: Don’t drink water when racing unless you want to vomit and shit yourself. And you can’t trust the Gatorade either. It might have been made with the same fire hydrant water mixed with powder. My best advice going forward? Either carry your own or don’t drink anything. Most of us can go 3-4 hours without any water. I do it all the time when I sleep. Next time a volunteer, aka “poisoner”, tries to give you a cup full of refreshing bacteria-filled shit water, I suggest you hold up your hand and say “No thanks, I’d rather not shit myself today.” I don't care how thirsty you are. Think you have a bad cramp and need water? Think how that cramp will feel with diarrhea running down your leg.

At least until this water fiasco is figured out, this is official F.M.S. policy and best advice: DO NOT DRINK ANYTHING WHEN RUNNING A MARATHON. You’re welcome, runners. Also, please note that I cannot be held accountable for my actions, your actions, dehydration, death, or dismemberment. Also, though I am smarter than most doctors, I am not a "doctor", at least officially, as I don’t have a fancy “degree” or a rubber “mallet” or a prescription pad for “legal” drugs.

No offense to Charlene “Violently Ill” Ragsdale, who thinks the mystery source of the Las Vegas shit water will be like finding a “needle in a haystack”, but maybe she should have looked two paragraphs above. Garbage cans, plastic lined (i.e. garbage bags in garbage cans), fire hydrant water, volunteers dipping hands and cups repeatedly in garbage can, handing cups to sweaty runners, hands undoubtedly rubbing against sweaty runner hands, repeat dipping motion into community pool of water in garbage can, sweat transferring to garbage can water. That’s a pretty BIG needle in that small haystack. For one, the repeated appearance of “garbage” is a tip off.

But until health officials solve this difficult conundrum, let’s not drink anymore water. The race organizer’s claim this method of water delivery is "standard practice" but I think they are full of shit. And now we are full of shit.

Or puke or stomach pain, what have you. I miss the days when I just had to worry about calve cramps and heart attacks.

Happy trails.

Apparently, something similar happened at the California International Marathon as well. It's an epidemic!


Jamoosh said...

Perhaps all RnR Productions should be relabeled "Adventure 'Runs'"

Today's Word Verification = kailliba. I am guessing it's Hawaiian.

B.o.B. said...

that whole race was a disaster from what i've read. next time it's probably safest if everyone just gets handed unopened bottles of beer or tequila.

ShutUpandRun said...

I was no Charlene but I felt like crap for 36 hours after the race. I did eat some raw chicken that was along the side of course, but I don't think it was that.

Ian said...

Drinking some type of liquor is probably the safest way to go.

Deb said...

This is precisely why I drink nothing but my own saliva and sweat.

The Boohers said...

Thank you -- that made my night.

Jill said...

The last two aid stations on the Pikes Peak Ascent are done this way - it is the only way they can get water to the participants (I can't call myself a "runner" on the top part of this race, cuz I ain't running, I'm gagging on 44% less oxygen at a 20% incline so participant is a better word); they use a loooooong hose at the top at 14,11s' and drape it down to 12,500' and fill garbage cans this way. 'Cept this year, when the hose sprung a leak on a jagged rock (go figure) and there was no water in the garbage can when I got there and my Camelbak was bone dry. I'm actually now thankful I was dehydrated and dizzy at the top of that thing.

Laura said...

I always take my own water in a race. One of our local races, I took water from an aid station and thought it tasted funny....probably because I saw them pumping it from the local lake right from hose to the cups. If I won't swim in it...I am probably not going to drink it either.
I think booze on the course is a sweet idea - margaritas would be perfect.

Robin said...

I always use race water and thankfully have been ok. However this event does make you pause. I guess as long as I get sick "after" the race I'll probably keep using their supplies.

The Sean said...

Standard Practice where?

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love it when something doesn't go someone's way and the first thing they do is try to assign blame? They made the decision to run RNRLV. They made the decision to continue to race even though it was freezing temps and windy. If I was a physiologist right now, I would start investigating the effects of cold weather, wind chill, scantily dressed people moving at slow rates of speed (6mph) on the stresses of digestion and fluid absorption. I'm sure we are bound to learn something new about the human body.

Danielle in Iowa in Seattle said...

Danny, most large races don't have scads of people complaining of feeling that ill afterward.

Hydrant water! Don't dogs pee in that?

Irene said...

I've run in over 50 races since 2001 (several of them Rock 'n' Roll events) and this was the first one I've been in where I witnessed so many people getting sick. By the way, I've run in colder temperatures than that evening running in Las Vegas. I did not get sick, but newbies and seasoned runners both became ill and all at about the same point in the race. It was like a war zone. My Canadian friend who trains in the snow became ill. My personal issue with that race, that day, is how ridiculously over crowded it was and Competitor did not plan accordingly. It was a cluster f*** of people at the finish line and after. It took us well over an hour to walk less than a mile to our hotel room.

I just read something that was published today that states, through testing and following up with 1,000 people who ran, that it wasn't the water or the way it was distributed. That's kind of curious, though. If not the water, then what was it?

Elizabeth said...

I'm all for not drinking water during a marathon. I am quite adept at managing the martini glass without spilling a drop, even while running (yes, I have done that before). Vodka for water is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the love of the sport...