International study sets out to improve medical care offered at endurance events

A study that aims to develop best practice advice for medical teams providing care at endurance running races worldwide is calling on race organisers and runners to help by completing a short questionnaire.

Researchers at Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) are working with the International Institute for Race Medicine (IIRM) and the Matthew Good Foundation to set up a resource for race and medical directors, emergency medical providers and participants that aims to provide educational resources and advice on medical best practice at long distance endurance races - predominantly half and full marathons.

The Loughborough research team has developed a set of questionnaires designed to help them to understand how medical care is currently managed at events from the World Marathon Majors through to locally organised races. The questionnaires are being distributed to race and medical directors globally and are also available to complete online at

Findings will be used to gain a picture of current medical programmes, to identify best practice and to develop guidelines for races of varying sizes. They will also be used to assess runners’ knowledge on drinking behaviour during races and help provide practical advice for runners and for race organisers.

Loughborough Research Associate Steve Mears said:

“It is important that through the questionnaires we identify the optimum level of medical support needed at events so that each race can deliver the best possible care based on resources and runner numbers.

“We are initially focusing on understanding the best way to treat and minimise such conditions as sudden cardiac arrest, exertional heat illness and water intoxication (hyponatremia) as these can occur in endurance races.

“If we can provide an educational resource through the IIRM that allows race and medical directors and emergency medical providers to understand the best practice for race set up and guidelines for most effective treatment, we can help prevent some of the more serious cases associated with these conditions.”  

Chris Troyanos, IIRM Executive Director and Boston Marathon Medical Coordinator added:

“The running industry has witnessed tremendous growth over the past 10 years.  Advancements in runner tracking, data entry, and timing have allowed for larger field sizes for every type of event. During these events, the safety of the participants and the general public should be the event's first priority.

“As a group of medical professionals, we must keep up with the demand for appropriate medical care and the education that comes with that care. This first of a kind study will show us what is currently being offered and will also pave the way when providing scalable medical coverage at all events”. 

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