On April 19, 1897, runners hit the pavement at the first ever Boston Marathon.
The day of the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, Mother Nature threw everything she had at competitors & race support staff. An almost relentless gusting headwind, bitter cold, and persistent rain alternating with sleet and snow combined to create a runner’s nightmare. Who would have expected this brutal unnamed competitor to join the race?
A young woman from Florida stood wet and freezing at the starting line waiting for her turn to run. Kelley Batton-Duell is a wife, mother, martial arts instructor, and runner. She is an athlete with a passion to excel. Kelley trained for this event, including the possibility of bad weather, because it is not unexpected by these athletes. In fact, running in a storm can be invigorating to a serious runner. But unbeknownst to her, she was about to compete against the most formidable and dangerous competitor she has ever encountered: the weather.
As Kelley pushed forward, hypothermia ran beside her matching her step for step. As major muscle masses gave off precious heat, her core organs cried for help to stay warm. Her highly trained body begged for balance as her core temperature began to fail. Dehydration, disorientation, and muscle fatigue sent out warning signals, begging Kelley to quit. Kelley is not a quitter. For her, quitting was never an option. Her training as a Martial Arts Instructor screamed “to quit is to die.” Kelley finished the Marathon on automatic, having ignored every good reason to have quit.
But while Kelley did indeed finish the race, she crossed the finish line exhausted, wet, cold, and disoriented. She would later learn she could have died on the sidewalk.
She placed one foot in front of another, barely able to stand. She was not sure what or where to go for help. He body was depleted of all energy and her mind barely functioning due to severe hypothermia. All she remembers seeing was a large Red Cross in the window of a building.
Stumbling forward, she made a B-line for the sign. Somewhere deep inside her she knew help was there. Two men, Rob & Rocco (who Kelly refers to as the Angels), Webster Bank employees and Red Cross volunteers for Race Day, greeted her outside the Team Red Cross Finish Line. They immediately saw that Kelley needed help, and that it had to be fast. Rob and Rocco shielded her with their umbrella and accompanied her to the Red Cross Medical Tent, carrying her the two blocks to medical aide.
The American Red Cross has been providing medical support to the Boston Marathon for more than four decades. The 26 medical tents – mobile emergency service centers – are strategically positioned the length of the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Boston’s Copley Square. Each medical tent is manned by a head doctor, RNs and CPR/First Aid-trained volunteers with the entire operation under the oversight of a Physician supervisor.
According to the Boston Athletic Association, more than 2,500 runners sought out medical treatment in one of the American Red Cross Medical tents located along the route. That number included 25 elite runners, while eighty-one runners were transported to the hospital. Kelley was one of the luckier ones: she was treated for hypothermia – a life-threatening condition – and able to walk out of the tent and return home to her family.
Would you like more information on how you can become a part of the American Red Cross Team? Get prepared by taking a First Aid & CPR Course by Clicking here. Learn about how to join Team Red Cross by Clicking here