News16 Feb 2024

Almost 900,000 runners benefit from Race Emergency Medicine Courses in China


Runners at the Shanghai Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)

The health and safety of more than 895,000 runners in China has notably increased thanks to two recent Race Emergency Medicine Courses (REMC).

The World Athletics Health and Science department orchestrated the courses in collaboration with the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA), seamlessly integrating them into the Shanghai Marathon and the Xiamen Marathon. Representatives from 62 of the 68 World Athletics Label Road Races in China participated in the courses.

With certification as medical director for Label road races secured for the next three years, this milestone underlines World Athletics’ commitment to the well-being of a massive running community and health and safety in road running events.

Roughly one in 80,000 runners will suffer cardiac arrest when racing, while the risk of exertional heat stroke is even greater. Given the tens of thousands of runners competing in China every weekend, implementing a fruitful collaboration with the CAA is a priority for the World Academy for Endurance Medicine, powered by World Athletics.

The REMC, conducted in collaboration with marathons, is designed to train and certify healthcare professionals to provide standardised medical leadership at mass-participation endurance events.

The comprehensive training schedule began with on-site sessions featuring lectures and skill-building activities. Participants delved into standardised medical concepts, procedures, and protocols in race emergency medicine, gaining valuable insights into ensuring the well-being of athletes.

The following day, the course took a hands-on approach as participants ventured to the finish area of the marathons for on-site observation. This real-world application allowed medical teams to refine their emergency response capabilities in a dynamic and challenging environment.

“Following a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were very keen to finally organise race emergency medicine courses in China, as this is a major player in the mass-running ecosystem," explained Dr Stéphane Bermon, Head of the Health and Science Department.

“Although there are still some adjustments to be done by our Chinese colleagues on the management of some medical conditions, we were really impressed by the capacity of the organisers to plan and manage high flows of runners after they crossed the finish line,” said Frédéric Garrandes, one of the representatives from the Health and Science Department who delivered the courses. “This was the case in both the Shanghai and Xiamen marathons.”

World Athletics Road Running Manager Alessio Punzi emphasises: "There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to organising a marathon, and what we've witnessed in China is truly impressive. Not every country possesses the resources and organisational capabilities that China demonstrates. The ability to mobilise thousands of volunteers showcases the country's commitment to ensuring the safety of these events.

“More race organisers should visit China and witness the advanced development of the running market here.”

The World Academy for Endurance Medicine now plans to work closely with the CAA for additional training initiatives in the field of race emergency medicine. This ongoing partnership seeks to elevate the standards of safety and care in all road running events across China, a major player in mass-participation endurance events.