Over the next two days in Doha, leading experts on athletic performance in extreme environments will meet to share and improve their knowledge so they can better prepare athletes to compete in challenging weather conditions.
The IAAF’s first International Conference on Road Races in Urban and Extreme Environments will bring together physicians, coaches, physical therapists, sports scientists and other healthcare providers who have an interest in endurance events.
The four main themes of the event are: temperature stress and exercise, air quality and athletic performance in the urban setting, practical prevention strategies, and medical management of heat related illnesses.
Most of the speakers have been involved with the preparation and operation of the medical facilities used for the road endurance events during the current World Championships and will offer their experience of the event.
After four races held in very challenging hot and humid conditions (women’s marathon, men’s and women’s 50km race walk, women’s 20km race walk), they have not had to treat a single case of heat stroke.
One athlete was transferred to hospital for observation and later released, but every other athlete who was treated in the temporary medical facility on Doha’s Corniche Street, was able to leave without assistance after treatment.
The education will continue on Saturday, when 50 race medical directors and medical professionals will receive practical training at the IAAF’s Race Emergency Medicine Workshop. The themes there will be: heat stroke and cold water immersion, dehydration and overdrinking, cardiovascular events on the race track and collecting medical data.
The attendees will learn and improve their skills in managing various scenarios that may occur in race-day medical management of endurance events.
So far, more than 50 athletes from a variety of countries have taken part in the IAAF’s Heat Stress project in Doha. Each has consumed an electronic capsule containing a thermometer and transmitter which has monitored their core temperature throughout their race. The data was downloaded after the race.
The athletes’ skin temperatures are also monitored externally by thermal cameras, placed at the start, finish and turn around points on the Corniche course. The scientists will continue to collect data from the men’s 20km race walk tomorrow night and the men’s marathon on Saturday night.
Ultimately, the athletes who have volunteered for the study will each receive an individualised report on their physical response to the conditions, while the general data will be analysed and used to assist all athletes preparing for other endurance events in hot conditions, including for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.