Extreme heat forced a mid-race cancellation of the Manitoba Marathon in Winnipeg on Sunday, as runners complained of humidity that left them drenched in sweat and dehydrated.
The race started Sunday morning, despite warnings from meteorologists of temperatures over 30 degrees, with humidex values above 40 degrees. Environment Canada had a heat warning in effect for Winnipeg and had advised residents of especially humid conditions.
The race’s organizers made the decision to cancel around 8 am, about an hour after the race began. They said in a statement on social media that they were still working to make sure participants were off the race course as of the early afternoon.
“A collective decision … was made to ensure the safety of our runners and volunteers,” the statement said.
In Canada’s biggest cities, vulnerability to temperatures may depend on your neighbor rising
One participant, Daniel Heschuk, said he managed to complete his half marathon before the cancellation, but considered dropping out at one point because of the extreme conditions. He said he looked for someone to escort him off the course, but eventually decided to keep going at a slow pace.
The weather, he said, had him sweating right away, even though runners ordinarily don’t begin to perspire heavily until a couple miles in. “It was pretty concerning,” he said.
“The marathon team definitely made the right call with closing the course early. It was getting to the point where it was dangerous. The extreme heat really sapped the energy out of you.”
Adam Johnston, a volunteer who was cycling the course, said he saw one runner who had collapsed during the event. He noticed some confusion among participants when the race was canceled.
He said he found out about the cancellation from a police officer and tried to spread the message to as many people as possible. But some runners continued to the finish line.
“A lot of runners just wanted to finish the race regardless, because they put their time into training,” Mr. Johnston said.
The Manitoba Marathon organization had warned participants about the heat in the days before the event, advising people not to try for personal best times and to stop if they began to feel unwell.
The organizers said on social media that they considered starting the event early, at 6 am, to avoid the high midday temperatures, but weren’t able to find the resources to make the change.
Mr. Johnston and Mr. Heschuk said the heat felt especially intense because it was the first day of the year that Winnipeg had experienced such high temperatures.
In a public advisory, Environment Canada reminded the city’s residents to drink plenty of water, check on people close to them and take cold showers or use air conditioning to counteract the effects of the extreme heat.
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