Medics kept busy, but a great race

2014-02-24 00:00

AS most of Pietermaritzburg were snuggled up in bed early yesterday morning listening to the rain fall gently outside, around 5 000 people were hitting the city’s streets at 5 am for the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon.

With the 21,1 km half marathon runners mostly in by 7 am, focus then turned to the 42,2 km marathon, which served this year as a Comrades Marathon qualifying event.

As runners struggled through the final kilometres, there were bodies strewn all over the fields at the Carbineers Drill Hall. By mid-morning, a peek into the medical tent didn’t make for the most pleasant viewing as faces writhed in agony while muscles and joints were nurtured back to health.

The man tasked with looking after these wounded soldiers was Dr Mergan Naidoo, who has been manning the medical tent at the race for the last 10 years.

“I actually used to run the race, and they had a paediatrician running the tent,” Naidoo, a sports medicine lecturer at UKZN Durban told The Witness yesterday. “I somehow got roped into it, and here we are.”

Naidoo heads up a team of five that includes three nurses and a paramedic — all of whom are volunteers.

There were no major issues yesterday, but that didn’t mean that Naidoo and his team weren’t kept on their toes throughout the morning and early afternoon.

“We did have one guy who collapsed on the road. He was taken to hospital with what appeared to be a cardiac condition,” Naidoo said. “Fortunately, he was helped early enough and it seems that he will be okay.”

Naidoo added that cases of “postural hypertension” were the most common on race day.

“This happens in long distance events when the muscles have been working hard, and then they come to a sudden stop,” he said. “We also have a lot of exercise-associated muscle cramping, which comes from guys not being physically prepared or from a lack of proper hydration.”

By the end of the day, Naidoo and his team would have felt like they had run the marathon themselves, such was the constant flow of runners in and out of the tent.

Race director John Hall was delighted with the way that the weekend had gone. “All in all we are very pleased,” he said. “The event was very well supported, and I’d just like to say a big thank you to all who were involved in making it a success again.”

In yesterday’s lighter 10 km fun run, KZN’s MEC for Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo led from the front as he cantered through the route, barely breaking a sweat in the process and looking daisy-fresh at the marathon prize giving.

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