Ultras and Derby Dolls

Any ultra marathoner and any woman that has competed as a “Derby Doll” have my highest praise. For those of you not in “the know”, Derby Dolls are those fabulous women that battle for points in a roller skating rink. Ultras, short for ultra marathons, are any marathon above 26.2 miles, i.e., 50 or 100 milers.


The fierceness of the Derby Doll league thrills spectators; and while many of the ladies have attained local celebrity status, they are badly beaten in the rink. At a recent event, the count of injuries after the first half was eight, Dr. Michael, one of their many on-staff doctors confirmed. If you are a Derby Doll, you are physically pounded, but, from event-goers receive nothing short of admiration.

The non-runners strange fear of running long distances is fascinating. A non-runners reaction to an ultra is akin to having told them you plan to take a nap on top of railroad tracks, immediately followed by voice over health concerns. It is amazing that this concern exists in the country with the highest rate of obesity. A significantly greater amount of people in the U.S. have more back, knee, and ankle problems due to lack of exercise and obesity, than due to running. This makes sense, the extra weight stresses and injures the joints.


Non-runners most often recall Pheidippides, an injured Greek soldier who ran 25 miles to tell the people of Marathon the news of the defeat of the Persians, and to warn of a surprise attack. It is said that Pheidippides collapsed and died immediately after delivering the information. Many forget that Pheidippides was injured from the battle before he ran the long distance, which could explain his death.

So apparently, the non-runners fear of running is grounded in the stories of marathoners that have suddenly dropped dead during or after a marathon. Research suggests the reason people suddenly die during athletic events is attributed to a genetic disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCOM, which can be detected by an echocardiogram. All serious runners should also screen for Phidippides cardiomyopathy, a non-genetic disorder that has been attributed to endurance training andcan be detected by a cardiac MRI. More information can be found in the following link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2014/04/15/why-do-healthy-people-die-running-marathons/.


To all athletes, get proper heart screenings, so you may continue to inspire us to stretch the limits. My favorite marathon story is that of Amber Miller; about 7 hours after completing the 2011 Chicago marathon, she delivered a healthy baby girl; she ran at 38 weeks pregnant. Amber had signed up for the marathon before she knew of her pregnancy; a veteran runner, she had prior clearance from her Dr. to run the marathon. http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/8136835-418/woman-gives-birth-after-running-chicago-marathon.html#.VCx6Svk7uSo.

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