Medical Tent Utilization at 10-km Road Races: Injury, Illness, and Influencing Factors

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Dec;51(12):2451-2457. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002068.


Purpose: To increase awareness of the need for coordinated medical care at 10-km races and to help direct future medical planning for these events.

Methods: We related medical encounter data from nineteen 10-km road races to runner, race, and environmental characteristics. We quantified the most commonly used resources and described the disposition of runners in these encounters.

Results: Across the 19 races and 90,265 finishers, there were 562 medical events for a cumulative incidence of 6.2 events per 1000 finishers (95% confidence interval, 5.7-6.8). Race size was associated with an increased incidence of medical events. Overall, the most common diagnosis was heat-related illness (1.6 per 1000 finishers), followed by musculoskeletal complaints (1.3 per 1000 finishers) and fluid-electrolyte imbalances (1.2 per 1000 finishers). For all diagnoses, runners with finishing times in the first performance quintile and in the fifth performance quintile had greater representation in the medical tent than mid-pack runners. Most runners were treated with supportive care, basic first aid, and oral rehydration. Ninety-four runners (1.0 per 1000 finishers) required ice water immersion for exertional heat stroke. There were low rates of hospital transport (0.2 per 1000 finishers), and no fatalities.

Conclusions: In 10-km road races, injury rates are low compared with longer races in similar weather conditions. Common medical issues can be managed with basic resources in the on-site medical tent. Green flag start race conditions may not predict race safety with regard to exertional heat stroke risk. There were no deaths in nearly 100,000 finishers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blister / epidemiology
  • Blister / therapy
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology*
  • First Aid / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Heat Stroke / epidemiology
  • Heat Stroke / therapy
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Maine / epidemiology
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Running / injuries*
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / epidemiology
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / therapy
  • Weather