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Extreme heat running: Dallas’ Hottest Half featured in “Runner’s World” magazine

This Runner's World story features an infamous White Rock Lake event held each August.

Last August, on one summer’s most sizzling days, something like 1500 psychopaths people ran a half marathon, 13.1 miles, beginning at Norbuck Park near White Rock Lake.

A writer for Runner’s World magazine flew in from Long Island, NY to test an array of fancy new gear intended to make exercise in extreme heat safer and easier.

A big fan of Runner’s World, I really wanted to introduce myself to the writer John Hanc following the 2010 race, but I just couldn’t seem to peel myself away from those industrial fans placed under a tent near the finish line. It was hot — 90 degrees at the start and the temps just kept crawling up. Hanc sported the number 108, which represents the record high in Dallas in August.

A year later, the story appears in the publication’s August 2011 issue. Turns out that despite his access to a high-tech cooling vest and a personal assistant (Dallasite Matt Ganio, a Ph.D. and researcher at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at UT Southwestern) to track his hydration and core body temperature, among other aids, Hanc suffered from dehydration and mild heat exhaustion and finished five minutes short of his goal time and 10 minutes short of his best half marathon time (it was about the same story for me, minus the fancy gear).

This is fun, isn’t it?

Here's me around mile 11 of the 2010 Hottest Half. That's Libby Jones, "Heels and Hills" race director, and her crew handing out blessed ice. I finished the race in 1:44. That's about ten minutes slower than my 13.1 best, and I was pleased with my time.

Here’s is the digital version of the story — it contains essential information about staying safe outdoors in the extreme heat.

I like that RW proves that, even when you are extremely prepared for the heat, it can make you sick. I had a prime example the past Saturday — I had a late night Friday, so I pushed my long run back to 8:30 a.m. instead of the usual 5 or 6 a.m. The day and night before, I guzzled water and electrolytes and even prepared a cold bottle of Pedialyte for the morning of my 15 miler.

I was great through about mile 10. I totally relate to the following quote in Hanc’s story: “I continued to feel fresh—and cocky—through mile five. Then I cracked. The discomfort of external heat stress can be sudden or gradual—for me it was like a 1,400 pound longhorn fell on my back.”

At about mile 12, I completely gave up on running. Forest Gump style, I said “I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now,” and walked, excruciatingly slowly, the remaining three miles.

If you are interested, The Hottest Half 2011 is slated to begin at 8 a.m. August 14 at Norbuck, Northwest Highway and Buckner. I won’t be there this year since it is the same weekend of my ET Marathon in Nevada. I will probably give this month’s Too Hot to Handle 15k at shot.

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4 thoughts on “Extreme heat running: Dallas’ Hottest Half featured in “Runner’s World” magazine

  1. I signed up for a marathon in Tupelo, Mississippi, held this year on September 4. Given the odds that it’ll be toasty, I started running in “hotter” temperatures to get acclimated. I went for an 18-mile run this Sunday in mid 70’s, and had to cut it short at 16 because I hit a disastrous wall at 14. And that’s probably just the beginning …

    Oh, well. Onwards, I say!

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