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A 27-year-old runner collapsed and died 300 metres from the finish line of a Toronto Marathon this

past weekend. He was completing the 21 kilometre halfmarathon portion of the course. Top four major circumstances that lead to marathon runner deaths.

Running to death
0 – 30 mins (3.25 miles)


News and events — visually

What happens during a marathon

Body heat and heart rate rises:

Heart beat: 135 per min.

•Heart rate climbs to about 140 beats per minute in the first half hour of the marathon. (Average resting heart rate is 75 beats per minute). •Body temperature climbs to around 40°C (average is 37°C. Hotter weather can make it even higher. •Extreme sweating to cool the body.

30 mins to 1hr Comfort zone •Running is easy. (6.5 miles)

Burning fat
1 to 2 hrs (13 miles)

1 2 3 4

•Heart rate steady at 135 beats per minute. •The body is relying on carbohydrate fuel, in the form of glycogen manufactured by the liver. •Start feeling thirsty.

Heart disease in runners over 35 years
Heart attacks are brought on by the combination of the intense physical stress of running for an extended duration and the pre-existing disease in the runner’s heart or a lack of cardiac fitness to handle the race.

Burning fat

Stomach cramps
2 to 3 hrs (20 miles)

•Store of glycogen will be running low and your body will now start to burn fat to power the muscles. •Feeling more thirsty. Need to get regular drinks to stop dehydration.

Lactic acid build up

Genetic heart defects in runners under 35
Presence of a genetic defect in the heart itself that hasn’t previously been detected or treated.

Muscle cramps Joint aches

Hyponatremia or low blood sodium levels
Sodium is lost through sweat. (high intensity athletes can lose up to 2 grams of salt per litre of sweat.) Adequate sodium balance is necessary for transmitting nerve impulses and proper muscle function. Drinking too much water during endurance sports can cause the sodium in your body to become diluted and further exacerbate the problems.

•Point where runners may "hit the wall.” •The body’s glycogen stores are now exhausted. Muscles must rely on the breakdown of fat. •May suffer stomach cramps due to the fact that oxygen-rich blood has been diverted away from the digestive system to the muscles. •Runners who have not trained properly can start to experience difficulty breathing and there is too little oxygen reaching the muscles. •By the end of this period, glycogen levels have bottomed out so blood sugar levels are very low. Blood sugar is needed as fuel for the brain, so you can feel fainty and cloudy. Some runners get mentally exhausted. •You also start to go into anaerobic respiration. One of the by product of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid, which causes pain and muscular cramps. •Joints, (knee caps, ankles) may become sore from the pressure of pounding on hard pavement.

3+ hrs

Exhaustion point:

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke
Mostly caused by extreme dehydration. As the body becomes dehydrated, it loses the ability to regulate its temperature and as its temperature rises, the result can be heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat induced coma and then death.

•If you have survived the last stage, then you might just make it to the finish line. •This is the point where people at risk may suffer from heart attacks, because the heart is under maximum stress. •Dehydration is also more likely, which thickens the blood and slows down the circulatory system. This means the heart needs to work harder than normal to pump the thick heavy blood. • Pace has slowed.