With overheated runners filling the medical tents, organizers of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon stopped the official clock and advised participants to stop roughly two hours and 30 minutes into the race on Sunday morning.
For hundreds, their race ended somewhere in the middle, and on a shuttle bus back to the start-finish area. Others plodded through the heat, but will not receive an official finish time for their efforts.
Only ten elite runners, including race winner David Tuwei, reached the finish in time beat the course closure. Tuwei, who lives in Coon Rapids, Minn., ran a 2:27:11 to win the 13th edition of the race that finishes at Lambeau Field.
The smart play on Sunday seemed to be the half marathon. Thousands finished before the course closed and the temperature topped 85.
Similar heat-related scenarios have played out in previous versions of the Madison Marathon, Chicago, and the Lakefront Marathon, but from most accounts the closure in Green Bay appeared to be better organized.
“Our medical resources were being heavily utilized, and we reached a point that the safest decision was to shut the race down,” Jeremy Metzler, the medical director of the race, said in a statement.
“Runner safety is our first priority, and we had to make that call for our runners,” he said.
Still, more than 100 participants sought medical attention on the course and more than a dozen were taken to local hospitals.
This was the first time the course was closed in the 13-year history of the Green Bay Marathon.
Race Director Sean Ryan shared his thoughts in a letter to runners: “Our participants’ safety is our first priority and at the end of the day, we feel we did the right thing. We share your disappointment in today’s outcome and look forward to better weather conditions at next year’s event.”
Rockford: A smaller group faced similar conditions in the Rockford Marathon, but organizers allowed the race and the official clock to continue.