Friday, July 19, 2024

    Unusually many incidents with ill and dehydrated runners at the half-marathon in Copenhagen 2023

    There were unusually many incidents with ill and dehydrated runners at the half-marathon in Copenhagen September 17, 2023. Over 50 citizens have been treated by emergency response teams for the half-marathon, where many have collapsed from dehydration close to the finish line. Also the capital’s emergency services were called in to assist and approximately 15 ambulances as well as three emergency medical vehicles were operative at the scene.

    Unusually high number of incidents

    The acting director of emergency preparedness have reported that the situation was atypical compared to previous years. During the Copenhagen Half Marathon 2023, there were an unusually high number of incidents with participants becoming ill and needing help.

    A volunteer for the race with the task of directing the traffic, suddenly stood with someone who was unconscious. And a bystander who was a nurse treated one runner who was blue around the lips and was in a critical condition. Some other bystanders were seen running into shops buying water to help those in need.

    The warm weather was blamed

    The director of Sparta who held the event, which was subject to criticism about the many dehydrated runners, has stated that it was due to the warm weather. But the weather on this “hot” September day was only 22 degrees Celsius (link), which do not come into the vicinity of extreme warm weather. There must be other reasons for the many runners in need.

    People’s health in general?

    One reason could be untrained people who think they can easily complete a half-marathon, but cannot. Or could there perhaps be something wrong with people’s health in general that has been decisive this time? It is difficult to conclude anything since we do not have access to people’s medical records, but it seems strange with so many incidents of ill and dehydrated runners. Let´s see next year if the same thing happens again or if everything goes back to normal.

    The Copenhagen Half Marathon is an annual road running event which takes place in September in Copenhagen, Denmark. A half-marathon is a 13.1 miles or 21 km run and is half the distance of a full marathon 26.2 miles or 42 km.

    Update November 24, 2023

    According to an article in the online version of the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, Copenhagens emergency services informed that a total of 42 runners was taken to hospital, while 24 runners was treated on the spot.

    The organizer, Sparta, hopes to remedy that situation in the 2024 edition, which will have the start moved back to 9.30 where it was before instead of a run in the midday heat. The “midday heat” refers to 22 degrees celcius. They are also changing the route so that ambulances can get to the site better in case runners get sick again next year.


    Image by ekki


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