Marathoners prepare for the heat at Olympic competition in Sapporo: “We will all be in the same frying pan”


“No worries,” Kipchoge said. “Just go run, compete and the best will win.”

The start of the women’s marathon on Saturday was brought forward one hour to 6 a.m. due to the heat announced later in the morning. At the end of the women’s run, the temperature should be around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius) with 75% humidity.

These are not easy racing conditions.

Sunday’s men’s version could bring more cloud cover – maybe even a little rain – and a more reasonable temperature of 79 (26C). But the humidity will hover around 86%, which will make it much more toasty.

Cambridge resident Molly Seidel will compete for a place on the podium, aiming to become the third American to win a medal since the introduction of the women’s race in 1984. She would be the first to win a medal since Deena Kastor won bronze at the 2004 Athens Games. The race starts Friday at 5 p.m. on USA Network.

Some of the Olympic field contestants had an oven-like heat and humidity explosion during the 2019 World Championships in Doha. This race was a midnight race and still reached 88 degrees (31 C), with a heat index of 105 (40 C). This led to nearly 30 runners missing out on the finish line as Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich won gold.

She is one of the favorites at the Tokyo Olympics. There could be quite a bit of “DNF” – not finished – given the conditions.

Along the loop walk route on Friday, there was a display that showed an up-to-date temperature reading.

Friendly advice from Canadian 50-kilometer walker Evan Dunfee when marathon runners take the stage: Don’t look at him. The rising thermometer only increases the heat.

“It was brutal there,” Dunfee said after winning a bronze medal.

The marathons start at 7 a.m. local time, which means lots of sunshine along a route that begins at Odori Park. The route has one large loop as well as two smaller ones, before ending in the park.

This path could have been a great place for fans. But like the events in Tokyo, spectators are invited to watch television to limit the risk of infection with the coronavirus.

“I would be happier if all of these challenges weren’t there and the fans could line up on the road to cheer us on, give us hope,” Kipchoge said. “Overall, we respect the authorities. We respect challenges.

Since the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, the footwear technology debate has generated a lot of interest in the running community.

Nike created a revolutionary shoe with its Alphafly Next% sneaker, which featured carbon fiber plates for more springiness and faster times. Kipchoge was wearing a prototype of the Alphafly when he ran the world’s first under 2-hour marathon in an unofficial race in October 2019.

World Athletics, the governing body of the sport, has issued a complicated set of guidelines on what constitutes a “legal” shoe for running.

Other companies are closing the gap.

“The shoes are really good,” Kipchoge said of his Nike model. “But, overall, if you’re not fit enough, you can’t really perform. It’s about fitness. It’s about training.

It is also a question of hydration. There will be many water stations and lots of crushed ice along the way.

World Athletics has developed a “calculator” to help athletes assess their preparation for the heat. The title was “Are you ready to compete in the heat?” There were nine categories on the list, with a numeric value assigned.

For example, four points were earned for two weeks of heat acclimatization and one for a “pre-cooling” plan such as using ice vests. In contrast, clothing that limited the evaporation of sweat warranted a deduction of minus one. The goal was to reach five points.

In Doha for the Worlds, around 200 runners volunteered to swallow red and white capsules containing data transmitters. It was part of a World Athletics research project on the effects of heat and body temperatures.

They couldn’t have picked a better place than Qatar, where temperatures reach 100 degrees (38 Celsius) every day.

“It has been extremely useful to prove that events can be organized even under difficult conditions, provided that an adequate mitigation plan is in place,” said Dr Paolo Emilio Adami, responsible for health and science at World Athletics.

For Olympic races, World Athletics has technology to provide real-time information on pollution levels, air quality, ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind characteristics and a reading of a wet globe temperature index, which assesses a runner’s level of exposure. heat stress.

“This information is fundamental,” said Adami, “in establishing the risks to which athletes, officials and volunteers could be exposed during the event.”


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