More than 600 treated at Ironman event; majority for heat illnes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

More than 600 treated at Ironman event; majority for heat illnesses

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CHATTANOOGA -

The 2016 Ironman is now in the books and while several athletes broke personal records, Mother Nature herself broke records as well.           

A total of 611 athletes and spectators were treated by event medicine specialists in the medical tent at this year's Ironman.  A majority of those individuals received treatment for heat-related illnesses.

Fourteen participants in Sunday's Triathlon event were treated at Erlanger's Downtown and East emergency rooms.  

A big increase from the 2015 Ironman, 200 were treated at medical tents and nine were hospitalized.

According to Channel 3’s morning meteorologist David Karnes, Sunday’s high reached 97 degrees in Chattanooga, that's the warmest September 25th since 1931.

More than 2,200 athletes competed in this year's Chattanooga Ironman. Finishing a triathlon is no easy feat, add the element of heat and athletes like Ken McLaughlin will tell you hard the weather can make a race.

"I was surprised; I still had a really good race for how hot it was. The aid stations, the volunteers were phenomenal,” McLaughlin said.

Several were also hospitalized and required further treatment by medical staff. Other were treated for lacerations, minor orthopedic injuries, soft tissue and muscle injuries, dehydration and chest pain. 

In a statement to Channel 3, Ironman officials explain how challenging the heat was for not only athletes but volunteers and spectators.

A spokesperson added that this year a higher rate of athletes did not complete the race, but could not confirm if that was related to the high temperatures.

"The exceptionally hot conditions were extremely challenging for athletes, volunteers, and spectators.  The weather forecast allowed race organizers and athletes to prepare for the conditions yesterday. Athletes conducted themselves well by slowing down, and managing their hydration and nutrition. In anticipation of the hot conditions, race organizers supplemented the normal preparations with additional fluids, ice, and medical coverage. More vehicles, including air conditioned buses, were staged on the bike course for transport of those athletes who chose to stop racing.  The race did see a higher than normal rate of athletes who did not finish."

Richele Frank was the first female finisher, she explained how she pushed through the heat.

"Just keep moving forward, stay in it. It’s going to get bad, you know it's going to be bad so you just kind of have to keep moving,” Frank said.

Karnes said, Sunday was the 101st day above 90 degrees in the Tennessee Valley this year.      

Still, McLaughin said no one could've predicted this.

"Oh it was really really hot; I don't think we were expecting this," he added.

Chattanooga will host the two day Ironman World Championship next September 2017. Some athletes we spoke to said if the warm weather trend continues it could determine whether or not they compete.

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