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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Runners Feel the Cold

Photo by Matt Huck

Three track and field athletes suffered frostbite and mild hypothermia during outdoor practice last week, as sub-zero temperatures and biting winds created a dangerous situation even for runners used to the cold.

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, Adam Dalton ’16 and Fintan Mason ’17 were running outside, as is standard for track practice, but before they had finished their run, began to feel the effects of the wind, a chilling 20 degrees below zero. Symptoms of level one (the lowest level) frostbite and hypothermia began developing by the time they went indoors.

“I couldn’t feel my hands, and just standing there taking the rest break between each interval really hurt,” Mason said. “So then I decided to scratch the last mile and go inside.”

Photo by Matt Huck
Photo by Matt Huck

Dalton started his last rep, but soon lost all feeling in his hands. He went into the Bear and made his way to the trainer. But even though Dalton was out of the cold, he was still in pain.

“It felt like someone had shoved knives into my hands,” Dalton said.

Both Dalton and Mason described their physical state as nauseous and dizzy. Assistant Athletic Trainer Jason Kofoot had the athletes lie under blankets for 20 minutes before preparing a hot bath for them.

Dalton’s body temperature returned to normal after only 15 minutes in the bath. For Mason, this was not the case.

“Fintan had to stay in there for a long time,” Dalton said. “One of his fingers completely changed color and he couldn’t move it. He was definitely quite a bit worse off.”

The track and field team normally runs outside in the cold, but Dalton and Mason could not recall ever running in temperatures as extreme as last Wednesday.

While the team normally has access to the indoor track, it is often preferable for them to run outside. Wednesday’s incident, however, put things into perspective.

Head men’s track and field coach Will Freeman has recognized the dangers of students running outside in winter weather, according to Mason.

“He has realized that sometimes it is just safer for us to be inside, even if it is inconvenient to do long runs indoors on the track,” Mason said.

“The health and well-being of our students are our primary concern, thus we are developing a cold-weather practice protocol for running outside,” wrote Freeman in an email to the S&B. “We are the first team in our conference, and one of the first in the NCAA, to develop such a practice protocol.”

Both Dalton and Mason were wearing three layers of clothing and gloves. Dalton’s gloves, however, were thicker than Mason’s. Dalton attributes this as the reason Mason was in worse condition.

Dalton and Mason were not the only runners to get frostbite. Jesse McNealy ’16 also exhibited symptoms following practice last week.

“There was also a girl on the women’s team who had the same thing, but she didn’t go to the trainers,” Dalton said.

The next day Dalton and Mason were back on the track, but with a high temperature of five degrees and a low of negative eight, they decided to stay inside.

“I was fine, it just took a while to warm up,” Mason said.

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