Sun, Sep 08, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Doctors warn on beer road races

SAFETY CONCERNS:Concerns about the health effects of drinking while running have led to some changes to the rules of a beer-themed race, event organizers said

By Chen Wei-tzu, Chang Chuan-chia and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

With the recent rise of themed road races, long-distance running is no longer just about crossing the finish line, but is also about integrating exercise and fun.

However, doctors have warned of the potential health risks posed by such events, as runners get ready for more excitement during next month’s Beer Run.

The 3.2km Beer Run, scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Machangting Memorial Park (馬場町紀念公園) in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), invites runners to get sweaty while enjoying an “unlimited supply of beer, fun and party.”

Instead of water stops, organizers plan to set up beer stations along the way and spray the alcoholic beverages on participants from makeshift platforms to keep them hydrated.

The event comes just after another popular themed race, Color Me Rad 5K, held last month, which saw more than 13,000 white T-shirt-clad runners bombarded with a rainbow of colors as they ran toward the finish line in Taipei’s Dajia Riverside Park.

However, doctors have raised concerns over the beer-themed race, saying that running while under the influence of alcohol could be dangerous.

Yao Chien-an (姚建安), an attending physician at the National Taiwan University Hospital’s department of family medicine, said particularly people who have cardiac problems, low blood pressure or are on anti-hypertensive drugs should avoid dangerous behavior, such as drinking alcohol during exercise.

“Although a small amount of alcohol does not immediately affect the liver, drinking beer while running could result in frequent urination and the dilation of blood vessels, leading to sudden drops in blood pressure that could cause people to pass out,” Yao said.

Yan Cheng-chung (顏正忠), a physician at the department of family medicine of the Taipei City Hospital’s Linsen Chinese Medicine Branch, said running facilitates sweating that in turn reduces blood fluid volume and increases blood concentration, speeding intoxication.

“Alcohol can also cause a loss of balance and thus makes it more likely runners will fall and injure themselves,” Yan said, urging participants not to consume beer until after they cross the finish line.

In response, the event’s planner, Tai Jung-wei (戴榕葦), said they plan to set up only two beer stations along the route and provide each runner with only 100ml of draft beer, to prevent them from any discomfort or accidents.

“We have also prepared a number of drinking games along the way to allow our contestants to take a brief break from the run. They will only be able to enjoy unlimited beer after they pass the finish line,” Tai said, adding that the race is open to people aged 18 and older.

The race will be followed by a 5km zombie-themed marathon on Nov. 2 in the Dajia Riverside Park, in which participants can choose either to dress up as zombies or help their fellow humans run for their lives.

According to race organizers, each “human” runner will have three red ropes tied around their waist. Those who manage to finish the run without losing all the ropes will be the “survivors,” while “zombie” runners who pull off the most ropes from their “human” counterparts will be the winners.

Chinese Taipei Road Running Association secretary-general Chen Hua-heng (陳華恆) said that because most participants of the race are not trained long-distance runners, they should not get overexcited during the run to avoid a heart attack.

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