Tuesday, March 27, 2007
ING Georgia Marathon
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I race walked the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon on Sunday, March 25, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a very hot day. The temperature was 67 degrees at the start of the race and the temperature reached a record high of 87 degrees by afternoon. It was a very challenging course as it was constantly going either uphill or downhill. There were almost no parts of the course that were level. Adding to the difficulties was the poor planning by the race committee to deal with water/Powerade stops. There were 15000 entries in the marathon and half marathon. This is a tremendous amount for a first time event. The first two stations (miles 2 and 3.50) only had four tables to handle the entire field. Needless to say these two stations were overwhelmed and I decided to skip drinking at them. I knew the field would separate near mile 4 and there was scheduled to be a station along the marathon route near mile 6. When I got to mile 6, there was a sign, but no station. When I arrived at the next station, mile 8, there were only three cups of water left. Fortunately I grabbed one. It had been more than 1.5 hours without any liquid on a hot day. The station at mile 10 had plenty of water; however, there was no Powerade. In fact the first time any station had any electrolyte drink was mile 16. My cup had about 2 ounces of extremely diluted Powerade. I was now 3 hours into the race and was becoming very concerned for my well being as was all the other competitors to whom I talked or heard talking to others. I usually drink an electrolyte drink at every station during a race. At mile 18 the water stations were scheduled to be every 1 to 1.5 miles. There still was no electrolyte drinks. I had to keep drinking water so as not to become too dehydrated; however, I kept wondering was I diluting my body’s remaining electrolytes to the point where I might have problems. About mile 21 a woman who lived along the course had a table set up and asked me if I would like some Powerade. I stopped and had two glasses and thanked her profusely. She was a lifesaver maybe. Mile 22 saw the first station that had Powerade as did mile 23 and 24. Mile 25 did not. There was not any electrolyte drinks at the finish line either. That was unbelievable. The Atlanta newspaper said the next day that many stations ran out of cups and water later in the race and about 150 people were treated for heat related problems and none were believed to be serious. They were lucky that someone did not die.
Everything else connected with the race was well done for a first time event. There were plenty of volunteers to man the water stations and police officers to control traffic which was backed up worst than at any other race I have done. They certainly will have to solve some major problems before the second annual event can be held. I am not sure whether I would even consider entering after experiencing such deep concerns for my well being.