Unseasonable Heat Takes Toll On Boston Marathon Runners

BOSTON (CBS) For spectators lining the 26-mile long Boston Marathon course, the clear skies and the warming 70-plus degree glow of the sun was a welcome respite from winter.

For marathoners however, the heat was a nightmare that made a difficult task even tougher.

In the late-morning and early-afternoon hours reports of heat-exhausted marathoners began coming in as temperatures rose into the mid-70s with minimal cloud cover to shield runners from the sun’s rays.

MORE: Complete coverage of the 121st Boston Marathon

Runners walking with hands on their hips, drenched from head to toe due to the heat were a common sight and many required medical assistance.

WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall reports about 20 runners had dangerously high body temperatures, requiring submersion into ice baths. The highest body temperature recorded was 108.8 degrees.

Some of those runners had to be forcibly restrained in the ice water baths to get there temps down. And they had so many baths going at one point they had to call in reinforcements to help.

Besides hydrating along the route, the Newton Fire Department helped cool runners down by turning fire hydrants into misting stations.

While the heat was trying for this year’s participants, it didn’t quite reach record-setting status.

The heat exceeded today’s temps most recently in 2012 when more than 4,000 runners dropped out of the race due to the 80-plus degree heat. That year the Boston Athletic Association offered a deferment to runners who decided not to run due to the high temperatures, allowing them to run in 2013 instead.

According to the Boston Marathon media guide, even those temps were manageable compared to some extremely unforgiving temperatures in prior years.

In 1905, the temperature reportedly exceeded 100 degrees and in 1909 it topped out at 97 degrees.

The highest recorded temperature since 1909 came in 1976 when the temperature on the course reportedly reached 96 degrees. Since then, the hottest recorded temperature came in 2004, when it reached 86 degrees on the course. That year saw a record number of heat-related illnesses, according to the media guide.

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