I just finished my first organized/competitive trail run. It was at a state park on remote trails with lots of steep uphills and downhills. It was not a huge race - maybe 300 people. The fall leaf clutter made the trails a bit tricky with lots of hidden rocks and roots to trip over. Everyone started out in a big group but as the race progressed it really thinned out. Several times I was alone on the trail or could only see one or two other racers. I saw several runners take nasty spills. My question is, when a fellow competitor trips and falls or seems incapacitated (vomiting on the side of a steep incline!) what should I do? I always stopped and asked - Are you okay? Each time the response was - I'm alright (Thank God!). But I was thinking that if the person was really hurt what should I do? I am not so competitive that I would leave them alone just to finish myself. But during trail races there is not always easy access to aid. I must admit that I was also thinking about myself too and what would happen if I was injuried out in the woods and unable to finish. Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.
6/11/2011 - Warrior Dash Pennsylvania - 52:26
6/24/2011 - CBA 5K - 27:11
8/7/2011 - Danskin Sherox Triathlon Philadelphia - 1:54:16
11/5/2011 - Penn Homecoming 5K - 28:46
11/13/11 - Media Mud Stain 5 mile - 53:39
05/06/2012 - Broad Street Run 10 Mile - 1:36:11
06/03/12 - See Chicks Run 10 K - 54:23
06/26/12 - CBA 5 K - 26:28
09/16/12 - Rock & Roll Half Marathon Philadelphia - 2:03:07
The good thing is, if you're running in the woods, you and others can run for help if necessary.
I had a trail race a couple weeks ago and I took a tumble, but was (mostly) fine. There was this other poor guy who fell earlier and later, he passed me up a while after I fell. He again wiped out just in front of me. I stopped but he assured me he was okay. He seemed a bit hurt, but I think he was more frustrated about wiping out repeatedly.
Some trail runs are treacherous, particularly in the fall when leaves cover roots and rocks. This race was on a mountain bike course and was very hilly, rooty and rocky...
As for what would happen if someone was severly hurt, not sure. I would hope the state park would have an ATV or something to get someone out of there if needed. I don't know if many trail race organizers think that out.
"Whether You Think You Can or Can't, You're Right"-- Henry Ford
Upcoming races: Super 5k 2/3/13
Select Recent Results: Brooksie Way Half Marathon - 1:49:09 (Half Marathon PR), Open Door Julie Run 5k - 22:16 (2nd place age group, PR)
Check out my Running Blog: http://clippinalong.blogspot.com .
You did the right thing. If you start to run longer trail races (50K, 50M, 100K, and 100M), I think that you will find many trail runners are very willing to stop and help other runners in difficulty. It can be someone who has fallen, run out of water, throwing up, dizziness, or many other issues. They will almost always ask if a runner sitting by the trail needs help, offer electrolyte tablets for someone cramping, offer water or a gel to someone who needs help and still has a long way to go to the next aid station, offer ace bandages if they have a sprain, etc. You may be surprised at how many trail runners will give up their own race to help someone else - I remember two front runners who carried (!!!) another front runner almost a mile to the nearest aid station after she suffered a compound fracture of the ankle. others have stayed with vomiting runners to get them to the nearest aid station, or two others helped another with a broken wrist from a fall to the nearest aid station that was five miles down the singletrack. These runners are my heroes and heroines.
With aid station 5-10 miles apart and the ability to get aid quickly is limited by singletrack trails and topography, and smaller groups of competitors (300 is a big trail race), trail runners generally do a good job of taking care of each other. Welcome to the trail runniing family!
I did a five-point landing, nose first, at a trail run this summer, and about five people stopped to help me, including a woman who offered use of her cell phone. It really meant a lot to me in terms of morale and getting on my feet and finishing the race.
6/3/12 Maraton Rapa Nui 5:00:49 (PR)
10/16/11 Istanbul Eurasia Marathon 5:10:25
I recently finished re reading Born to Run and am reminded that one of McDougall's theses is that one of the key aspects of the greatest runners (writing specifically about ultra athletes) is that they are marked by a greatness of soul and humanity which contributes to their depth of running ability. They certainly modeled deep caring and concern for their fellow runners.
Barefoot / Minimalist Runner
...not maintaining this these days..
07/29/2012 Marsh Creek Raptor Run 10 Mile Trail Race
07/15/2012 Quadzilla 15K Trail Run, Trexlertown, PA 1:37 (2011, 1:49)
04/29/2012 Lehigh Valley / St. Luke's HM, 1:43:15 (2011, 1:54:20 )
03/19/2012 Kutztown Fool's Run 10 Miler, 1:18:15 (2011, 1:30:20)
02/26/2012 Ugly Mudder 7.2 Mile Trail Run, Reading, PA 1:20
11/27/2011 Dirty Bird 15K Trail Run, Birdsboro, PA 1:40
10/08/2011 Lehigh Gap Nature Center 10K Trail Run (6.38 miles), 59:20 (10/07/2012)
Started running (again) May 5, 2010