Thursday, October 8, 2009

Less Than Ideal Conditions ?

Yesterday's post touched on the Chicago Marathon's new Event Alert System (EAS), the primary goal of which is to communicate the status of course conditions to participats leading up to and on race day.  Two days ago I received an EAS Update from Chicago Event Management, indicating the current EAS level.  There has been no change in the EAS level between the first e-mail and the latest updated dated October 8 that is posted on the Chicago Marathon web-site - it remains at Yellow. 

I find it interesting that EAS level Yellow, which suggests less-than-deal conditions for marathon running, is the current status, given the advance local weather forecast that is calling for it to be partly sunny with lows in the upper 30s and highs in the lower 50s.  I suppose it is all relative, but for me those conditions are perfect.  In fairness, the latest update does indicate that the EAS level is progressing toward Green, or good conditions throught the day.

The latest EAS update is pasted below.  Perhaps this is a good opportunity to ask the question - what conditions (temps, weather, etc...) would make EAS level GREEN to you ?

2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon EAS Update
Last Updated October 8, 2009

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon’s Event Alert System (EAS) is a color-coded communication system that will communicate the status of course conditions to participants in advance of the event, as well as on race day. The Alert Levels range from Low (green) to Moderate (yellow) to High (red) to Extreme (black) based primarily on weather conditions, as well as other factors.

According to the advance local weather forecast, the weather on race day is projected to be partly sunny, with low temperatures in the upper 30’s (degrees F) and high temperatures in the lower 50’s (degrees F).

Based on this forecast, the Event Alert Level is Yellow, which suggests less-than-ideal conditions for marathon running in the early morning, but progressing toward Green, or good, conditions throughout the day. Please be aware that conditions may change prior to race day. Be prepared for changing conditions and pay attention to signage and P.A. announcements at the Health & Fitness Expo and on race day.

Given the current EAS Level, Bank of America Chicago Marathon Medical Director Dr. George Chiampas offers the following preparation tips to all participants:

Layer, but do not overdress. You want to feel slightly chilly when you start running. Your body generally heats up approximately 20 degrees, so dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.
Hydration: Drink enough fluids to maintain your baseline body weight, but be aware of over-hydration. If you begin to gain weight above your baseline body weight, you are drinking too much water and depleting your sodium level. (A condition known as “Hyponatremia” can occur when there is a lower than normal concentration of sodium in the blood. Sodium is a critical electrolyte that aids nerve and muscle function, and helps to maintain blood pressure.)

Utilize both water and sports drinks (Gatorade) to stay hydrated and maintain sodium levels.

Start out at a conservative pace. An all-too-common mistake in the marathon is to start out too quickly and fade at the end. Conserve your energy for the latter stages of the race.

Study the course and be aware of the locations of Aid Stations. Each Aid Station has water, Gatorade, toilets, medical facilities and access to runner drop-out vehicles.

Do not immediately stop moving when you cross the finish line. Rather, walk or slowly jog as you move through the finish area. This will allow your muscles to relax and your body to acclimate. It is not uncommon for runners to collapse beyond the finish line due to the sudden change in activity.

For participants who require such assistance after the race, the Main Medical facility is located just beyond the finish line, as is an Ice Tent and Podiatry Tent.

Pack warm and dry clothes to change into after the race.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is committed to providing the safest possible race experience. Participants are advised to use their best judgment, alter their pace accordingly and pay attention to their body’s warning signals at all times.


  1. That rating with those temperatures tell me the marathon is managed by people who don't run marathons.

    Or maybe its also yellow because they think just running a marathon is inherently silly in the first place and temperatures didn't factor into it.

  2. Those sound like ideal conditions to me!

  3. PR conditions I say. The fact that they even have this system shows how paranoid they are. Hopefully they are as diligent in stocking aid stations too.

  4. I ran a 50K today and the heat index was 104 (95-degrees with 80+% humidity) and the race still went as planned...we were actually joking about how they cancelled Chicago for temps that were 10 degrees cooler than what we had to run in (not to mention Chicago was also 5 miles shorter).

  5. Tony,
    Come to the Sierra foothills to run and you won't need to worry about silly alert systems. We'll get dressed for a temp and drive up or down (east or west) until we find the temp appropriate for our apparel. That or we'll have a couple beers and we won't care what the temperature is!

  6. A few friends from the tri-club ran the marathon, two of them thought it was a bit cold and took a couple of miles to warm up but once they got going it was all good. Both would qualify for Boston. I'm with you, those are perfect temps. I would rather it be in the 20's than in the 90's, at least I can put layers on when it's cool.

    See you in Javelina. Bought my tickets last week. I arrive at PHX 45 minutes after you guys do and I took a late flight out on Sunday.