Rainy Conditions Posed Hypothermia Risk to Boston Marathon Runners

B.A.A. medical volunteer patrols finish line at Stuart and Berkeley Street intersection. BY FAITH PINNOW

04/19/2023 By Faith Pinnow

BOSTON – The sound of rustling plastic nearly drowned out the celebratory music that echoed from the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Spectators donned rain ponchos and crowded together under umbrellas while runners lined the sidewalks wrapped in mylar blankets.

B.A.A. medical volunteer patrols the finish line at Stuart and Berkeley Street intersection. BY FAITH PINNOW

Monday’s race weather brought cold temperatures and rain showers through downtown Boston in the early afternoon, drenching thousands of finishers and onlookers. While some runners were unprepared for the chilly spring showers, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) anticipated how it would affect athletes. 

In addition to posting extensive information on their website about how to prepare for cold running conditions, B.A.A. has two medical tents near the finish line and roving medical team volunteers.

Kim Baker, a Medical Sweeps team member for B.A.A, said that the primary concern for runners is developing hypothermia. The damp conditions, mixed with temperatures in the mid-50s, meant that once the runners crossed the finish line, they were at risk. 

Luckily, B.A.A. had a plan of action to help mitigate the risks of hypothermia and provide medical assistance to runners in the event that they experience hypothermia.

“They all have the mylar as well as food and drink. We encourage them to keep walking and we do have warming buses as well. And then we have a vast network of medical personnel in case any of them find that the hypothermia progresses,” Baker said.

Baker and her team patrol up and down Stuart Street in red medic jackets, checking on athletes and offering assistance to those who need it. The chief symptoms they check runners for are shivering, purple lips, drowsiness, and confusion. 

Some runners, like Leandra Zimmermann, a 26-year-old from Germany who finished 50th overall for women, had their own game plan for how they would keep warm after crossing the finish line.

“I took off my shirt, I put on a down jacket, and the blankets are good. I got some hot tea,” Zimmerman said, chuckling and gripping her paper to-go cup with both hands. “It was fine during the race, honestly, mostly, but then now, like waiting here, it’s been really, really cold. I think we really need a hot shower.

Despite the weather, more than 30,090 people crossed the finish line this year, proving that even a little rain wouldn’t slow these runners down.