Wildfire Smoke Shortens Marathon at Woody’s RV World

Extreme weather conditions are becoming more common on race days due to climate change. Attendees at the 23rd Annual Woody’s RV World Marathon in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada experienced the effects of this firsthand. This year, the area has had a particularly intense wildfire season with more than 273 wildfires. Environment Canada has advised residents to avoid strenuous outdoor exercise due to poor air quality caused by the fires.

As a result, the marathon was shortened, and organizers changed it to a half marathon. While 1,100 runners signed up, many refused to line up. The race relied on volunteers and was expensive to host, so refunds were not given. All registered runners received medals and shirts.

Reducing the marathon’s distance was a necessary decision as inhaling fine particulate matter from the smoke can have negative long-term health effects. Fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and can cause long-term health problems when it enters the bloodstream and lungs.

Health and wellness journalist Kells McPhillips explains that when extreme conditions like these occur, runners must decide whether to wear a bib or stay inside. As climate change continues, events like the Woody’s RV World Marathon will likely face similar decisions in the future.

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