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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Deadly Marathon: Who's to Blame?

I am not a marathon runner. That is one of the biggest reasons you did not see me in the Chicago Marathon - or anywhere near it, for that matter. Another reason would be that it was 88 degrees outside. Call me a product of bad parenting if you will, but my policy is that if it's hot and icky outside - I stay inside where it's cool and refuse to "go out and play." I'm sure that there are even more reasons why I didn't attend the marathon (as a participant or supporter), but those main two seem like explanation enough.

Not surprisingly, I was safer in my air-conditioned room than those who were out in the heat - especially if they were also running in a marathon. 315 of the runners required an ambulance to be removed from the course. Five of them wound up in the hospital as of Sunday night. One runner died. While the death is tragic (unless you were his enemy, which I am not, but I guess that if you were you wouldn't think of it as "tragic"), there's apparently going to be an autopsy to figure out if the death was a result of the heat, or a heart problem, or a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Since the news has not reported anything about a gunshot wound, I feel it's safe to eliminate that third possibility. Still, you never know.

So who is to blame? Anytime a tragic death - or a mass-emergency with over three hundred needing medical care or hospitalization - occurs, fingers have to start pointing. It's our nature. So where are the index fingers collectively drawing our attention?

Several are pointing at the City of Chicago. It's pretty easy, since the word "Chicago" is on all of the memorabilia you could find at the Chicago Marathon. Runners and spectators are blaming Chicago for not providing enough water or enough water stations for the runners. They say that on such a hot day, drinks stations should have been set up at every single mile on the 26.2-mile course, rather than the 15 stations set up every mile or two. The runners were vocal about claims that all of the water stations "were out or really low" on water and Gatorade.

Chicago points its finger right back, particularly at the jackasses who were in the marathon. Shawn Platt, a senior vice president of sponsor LaSalle Bank, said that each of the stations had been outfitted with over 50,000 servings of water and over 35,000 servings of Gatorade. "We checked with all the aid stations, and the amount of water was adequate. We had thousands of thousands of gallons of water," said Platt. The problem, he claimed, was partially about distribution - the bottlenecking at the dispensation tables caused delays and distress, while at the same time he pointed the finger at runners making up for the delay by taking cups two or three at a time, faster than volunteers could fill the cups to replace them.

Several marathon participants and even more spectators decided to point their fingers at the race officials, saying that the weather was too inclimate for marathoning and should have been cancelled at the outright. Also, after failing to cancel it before it started, they point their fingers even harder and say that it should have been cancelled earlier - before all of the people started collapsing and requiring ambulances and the opening of fire hydrants.

So of course, several more marathon participants are pointing their fingers at the race officials, saying that the marathon should NOT have been cancelled because they didn't get to finish and the whole thing kind of becomes a moot point, I suppose. Honestly, I don't think anyone was really stopping them from continuing to run, but people left the watering stations and I guess when the race is cancelled, police escorts and barricades function less and bus routes possibly were routed back to their original statuses.

So now that we've taken a look around the room and watched all the fingers pointed at one another, I think it's time to spin the camera my way and see where my digit's directing:

My finger's pointed straight at you - the runners.

For those runners complaining that it was Chicago's fault for the man who died while running - you can suck an egg. The autopsy showed that it wasn't the heat at all, but rather a heart-valve condition known as mitral valve prolapse. It's common, and usually harmless, but it was the cause of his death.

This goes way beyond the runners who are pointing fingers at others, because every runner not pointing a finger at themselves is just in denial. You do NOT participate in a marathon without practice and training. And if my calculations are correct, it's been pretty damned hot for the last three or four months at LEAST. Are you ALL seriously telling me that you trained for this marathon in the heat, having to provide your OWN water, but when it's time for the big day, you can blame your shortcomings on OTHERS?

Again, I'm no runner. But I'm full of enough common sense to know that any activity you participate in at this high level, you already KNOW the dangers and risks and you take PRECAUTIONS accordingly. You don't play in the NFL and then throw a hissy fit when your arm gets fractured from a powerful tackle. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

But it doesn't stop there - I'm especially pointing my finger at the JACKASS runners. When all of the water station attendants were being questioned in the huge water-shortage inquisition, you know what almost all of them had to say? "We had the water. We were trying to get the water out. But runners were taking more than one cup at a time, injuring each other to scramble for cups faster than we could put them out, and then were WASTING the water by dumping it on themselves instead of DRINKING it." Drinking water is for drinking - mist systems and sponges that were set up were supposed to be for that kind of stuff.

If I were one of the people in charge of this marathon, here's what my response would have been:

I'd mail each and every one of the 40,000 runners a package. Inside the package would be a big bottle of Ice Mountain and a photo of me displaying my middle finger. The photo's caption: "Thanks for participating in the Chicago Marathon. Here's your fucking water."

(The runner who died)
(Someone else who fucking GETS IT!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen, brother, amen!