The Most Dangerous Endurance Events

Endurance events are organized to test the athlete’s level of fitness and to see how far they can stretch it in their pursuit of victory. There does come a time when the levels that individuals can push themselves to can be worryingly dangerous. There have been time when an athlete’s body has been stretched to the maximum and it cannot cope with the work load that it has been asked to perform.

Sometimes this can reveal weaknesses in an individual’s body and this was certainly the case with Patrick Muamba who collapsed on the pitch in an FA cup game between Bolton Wanders and Tottenham Hotspurs in 2012. There was no physical injury but the amount of running the player had produced during the first half of the game caused him to collapse. He simply stopped breathing, and for 78 minutes his heart stopped breathing. Fortunately the first class medical care he instantly received resulted in his heart re working and he later recovered. The incident was cause by a heart defect and the player had to retire from professional football.

Distressed players over the body of Patrick Muamba

The same heart defect was also blamed for the death of the Rugby League player Danny Jones. Playing in a reserve team game for Keighley against London Skolars in 2015, he suffered from a cardiac arrest due to the excursions he had made during the game. The other causes of fatal injuries can be due to the harsh condition an event is staged in. One of the toughest events is the Marathon des Sables that is held each year in Morocco in the Sahara desert. Not only do the competitors have to complete 251 kilometers in 6 days, they have to do so in temperatures rising to 110 degrees during the day, and dropping to as low as below 50 degrees at night.

The competitors also have to carry their own supplies. They are expected to be completely self-sufficient so they pack food, water, sleeping bag, and other necessary items. Runners have died while participating in the event but the fatality rate is no higher than the big city marathons.

The former world champion skier Ulrike Maier

One of the world’s most technologically advanced sports has one of the highest death rates and that is motor racing. The most dangerous race is the Le Mans 24 hour race as it is a true test of the driver’s physical and mental endurance. The race that has been running since 1923 has so far claimed the lives of 130 drivers. The fatal crashes are often caused by driver’s errors as a result of them being exhausted as a result of the duration of the race. Le Mans has every safety measure in place but with the cars travelling at such high speeds it is impossible to protect the drivers when they crash.

Mountains have caused as many deaths as any environment. Downhill skiing has lost a number of world class competitors as a result of fatigue setting in during the later stages of the race. As recently as November 2013 the French downhill skier David Poisson died in a training accident, and in 1994 in Garmisch in Germany, the female Austrian downhill skier Ulrike Maier, lost her life after breaking her neck in a fall.

The mountains also attract climbers and the most dangerous climb in the world is the one that people attempt in trying to get to the summit of Annapurna. The mountain has been successfully scaled by 130 people but it has taken the lives of 53 others. The slopes are so steep that the exhaustive nature takes its toll and the climbers are prone to make mistakes resulting in dreadful consequences.

Generally the majority of endurance based sports are safe, and more people are saved from an early death in training for them, than the small minority who pass away while competing in them. However, it is always best to be cautious when participating in these activities and make sure that each event has the necessary health and safety measures in place.

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