Health & Safety
The roads are not closed for this event so please keep an eye out for vehicles on the course. Also remember that the trails are open to the public so keep a watch out for bike riders and walkers. Please make sure you move off the trail to allow these other users to pass by. When passing slower runners, please indicate that you’d like to pass by saying passing on your left (or right) when overtaking. When travelling on farmland take care on fences, bridges and gates etc.
The course is remote so pay attention to markers and marshalls and keep yourself safe. The course is marked with signs, red arrows and blue total sport tape. Do not follow pink tape. Blue tape has been placed every 500 metres or so on tricky areas so if you can’t see tape stop and go back to where you last saw tape
If you need to withdraw for any reason you must notify an event official e.g. marshal or course crew and await instructions. Any runner who is unable to finish the run must personally inform the nearest Aid Station of their decision to withdraw and make sure their race number is recorded. Athletes who leave the race without officially withdrawing pose a serious risk to the event safety and will trigger an immediate Search and Rescue response. The race reserves the right to pass on any costs associated with an unnecessary search effort if a runner has not bothered to withdraw before leaving the race.
Event number & timing transponder
You must wear your event number on your front so it is visible at all times. You must wear your timing transponder correctly on your shoe at all times. Please return your timing transponder at the finish line in the boxes provided.
Participants who require any personal medication, must carry those items with them.
Be kind to each other out there. We have a marshal around every five km who has comms so if you come across another runner in trouble. Should you encounter an incident on course, please:
- Try to communicate with the person and provide assistance, if you are able.
- Send the next participant through to notify the next event official of the situation and location of the incident. Once you’ve finished the course, please report the incident to a member of staff or the medic team.
After spending a lot of time out on the course and working with our safety experts we have compiled a compulsory gear list for this event. We have beefed it up a bit for your safety, which is our number one priority.
All participants of the 100km, 74km and 50 km events- including relay runners - will be required to have the full compulsory gear (option 4) items at registration. Gear checks will be carried out at registration and there will also be random checks on Saturday morning at the start line and throughout the course. If you do not have the correct gear you will not be allowed to continue on the course. This is for your own safety. The course takes part in an alpine environment in spring where conditions can change rapidly and you need to be prepared. Please do not underestimate how quickly the weather can change in this region.
For participants of the 24km you will now be required to carry compulsory gear option 3.
There are four compulsory gear options. The decision about which option you will need to take on course will be made prior to the event depending on the weather forecast.
- Option 1: No complusory gear needed
- Option 2 : Long sleeve top (polyprop or wool), beanie (polyprop or wool), survival blanket
- Option 3: Long sleeve top (polyprop or wool), beanie (polyprop or wool), survival blanket, seam sealed jacket, gloves (polyprop or wool)
- Option 4: Long sleeve top (polyprop or wool), beanie (polyprop or wool), survival blanket, seam sealed jacket, gloves (polyprop or wool), tights
We stronly encourage you to carry additional layers and have a spare change at Kinloch.
100k entrants will need lights for the start of the race as it will be dark. You can drop these at the first aid station (able to be picked up post-event on Saturday or Sunday).
All Ultra distances (50k, 74k, 100k) will need to have a light for the final 24k leg from Kinloch to Whakaipo Bay if you enter that trail after 2:30pm (same for compulsory gear - see above). So either have lights on you, or put your light in your last drop bag for pick up at Kinloch. For 100k entrants - this probably means two lights for the race: start and finish.
No light = no entrance to the final section of trail, which means no finish.
The last 24k is on remote single trail with no other access so please ensure you have sufficient illumination and batteries.
CUT OFF TIMES
Please ensure you are aware of the cut-off times.
- 11.30am: Hingarae Road end (68.5k remaining)
- 3.00pm: At the airstrip on Whangamata Road (50.9k remaining)
- 7.30pm: Kinloch Domain for 100km runners (24k remaining)
- 8.45pm: Beginning of Headland loop (18k remaining), (with an option to short cut the headland and head directly to Whakaipo)
*Note: If you do not reach the 8.45pm cut-off at the beginning of the headland loop, and are required to take the shortcut to finish, you will not receive a 100km finishers medal. You won’t go home empty handed however, as we will still have something for you for your huge achievement.
Because of the remote nature of the trails, these will be strictly enforced for your safety.
The following information provides some general advice relevant for ultramarathon runners.
An Ultramarathon is a true endurance event, all competitors will spend a substantial period of time on two feet, pushing all body systems far beyond what occurs day to day. The human body is amazing, and for the vast majority of competitors the body will rise to the challenge. It is important to be aware of the strain that the event places on all athletes. There are a few key medical issues to be aware of, ranging from trivial to life threatening. The list below is not an exhaustive list, but rather is intended to offer some basic information and an overview of some complex conditions.
All athletes competing in ultramarathons are expected to lose some weight, this largely relates to fluid losses and depletion of energy stores (which in turn reduces stored water). The key is getting fluid intake right to offset this.
Our bodies have an inbuilt mechanism for regulating our fluid status. Drinking to thirst is increasingly being seen as the safest and most effective way to achieve effective hydration in ultra endurance events. To support this, ensure that you have the ability to carry fluid with you. Drinking a range of fluids is also a good idea to support adequate hydration.
Exercise associated hyponatraemia
Fluid depletion isn’t the only issue for Ultra athletes. Excess water intake can cause a variety of issues, most important of these is exercise associated hyponatraemia (low sodium concentration in blood). This is a preventable, but potentially fatal derangement of electrolytes.
During an ultramarathon a number of changes to our physiology makes us more vulnerable to hyponatraemia (low sodium). These center around the body retaining too much water, essentially diluting the sodium in our blood, as well as a small loss of sodium. A significant risk factor for developing exercise associated hyponatraemia is the ingestion of large volumes of water alone, without appropriate electrolytes or other substances. Use of NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen), inexperience or inadequate training and event duration over 4 hours are also risk factors.
Exercise associated hyponatraemia has a range of symptoms depending on its severity. At the mild end of the spectrum it can present with nausea or lightheadedness. More significant cases can display confusion, vomiting, seizures and in severe cases cerebral oedema (brain swelling) or pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs).
The best way to avoid exercise associated hyponatraemia is to drink a range of fluids during the race, ideally including some electrolyte containing fluids (not just water alone). Runners should drink to thirst and not have a pre-determined schedule for drinking. Food intake during the race should include some electolytes or salts. NSAIDs should also be avoided as there have an independent effect on how the body controls sodium levels. It is important to note that a high salt intake alone (e.g. regular salt tabs/salt sticks) does not eliminate the risk of hyponatraemia in the presence of excess water intake.
At the Taupo Ultra, we weigh all competitors in the 100km before and after the race. This is to identify runners who have gained weight during the event, as this is a potential sign of water excess.
The risk of exercise associated hyponatraemia doesn’t stop at the finish line. Ingestion of large volumes of water alone after the finish can also precipitate a fall in sodium. For this reason, we encourage runners to consume salt containing foods and a variety of fluids (not water alone) until they are passing urine normally and the gastro intestinal tract is working after the race. This can take a few hours.
To summarise, the risk of exercise associated hyponatraemia can easily be reduced through a few simple strategies.
- Drink to thirst, “pushing fluids” or drinking to a predetermined plan is risky.
- Consume electrolyte containing fluids during the race.
- Take on some salt/electrolyte containing foods during the race.
- Avoid NSAIDs on the days around and including an ultramarathon.
Taupo can be pretty cold in October, but there is also the off chance of an absolute scorcher come race day. It is important to be aware of the environmental conditions and plan accordingly. Running an ultra not only stresses the body and impairs temperature regulation through energy depletion, it also involves a long period of time exposed to the elements.
Hyperthermia has effects both directly through temperature and through fluid loss from excess sweating. The main source of heat is active muscles, the body has means to dissipate this heat, but these can be overcome in extreme conditions. Nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness are non specific, but can be early signs of hyperthermia or heat stroke. Make sure you have tried running your race distance in warmer conditions, and prepare accordingly.
Cold temperatures are a bigger risk for the Taupo Ultra. The early signs of hypothermia include tiredness, disorientation and confusion. This is often accompanied by shivering, though this can reduce once core temperature drops further. Runners need to be sure to have adequate race gear, including compulsory gear, that can guard against the elements.
Muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis)
Running puts high loads through muscles around the body. The many impacts over the course of an ultra especially load the muscles of the legs. This can result in damage to the muscles. The degrees of this are on a spectrum, from some mild muscle stiffness after the race right through to muscle necrosis or rhabdomyolysis. At the severe end of the spectrum the damaged muscle cells can release a range of potentially harmful waste products around the body. This can lead to dark brown urine, potential kidney damage and high potassium levels in the blood in addition to muscle soreness.
The main things to monitor are urine output in the days following the race, being sure to keep up a good fluid intake and seeking medical advice if urine becomes brown.
This spectrum also includes DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This involves muscle stiffness and pain starting 1-2 days after completion of the race. This is especially common in runner who have increased their pace or distance significantly from what they have trained for. It is self limiting and improves over the following week to 10 days.
Blood in the urine, or haematuria, is a very commonly seen problem in runners competing across all distances. The causes in generally relate to the mechanical effects of bouncing organs associated with running. In most cases this is benign, with the red colouration resolving shortly after the race. Rarely it can herald an underlying medical problem.
If concerns are raised around blood in urine during or after a race, then in general follow up with a GP for a repeat urine test is the best course of action, and will in general be the suggestion from the race day medical team.
Kidney damage (acute kidney injury)
Dehydration, muscle breakdown and occasionally haematuria can be associated with kidney damage. The kidneys are part of the filtration system that removes waste products from the blood. For a number of reasons, this filtration system can be damaged or stressed while running an ultramarathon.
Adequate hydration, avoiding substances toxic to the kidneys (especially NSAID medications e.g. ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen) and noting any changes to urine color that persist more than 12 hours or so after the finish are some simle ways to minimize the risk of damage to the kidney.
Safety and Medical Providers – Peak Safety
At Total Sport we have been using the safety services of Peak Safety for quite some time now – they really are top shelf! They have been in operation since 1996 (1 year longer than us!) so have a massive amount of experience to draw on; this combined with their absolute passion for the outdoors and everything safety really does make for a winning combination.
Not only do they offer a wide range of safety management services but they also run a large range of safety and first aid courses. If you or someone you know needs something in this department we highly recommend you get in touch with these guys first – very nice and very professional guys and girls! Learn more at peaksafety.co.nz