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#Comrades: Dedicated medical support for every step of tough ‘Up Run’

Runners of this year’s 97th Comrades Marathon can count on the extensive medical teamwork behind the scenes ready to support them throughout this year’s ‘Up Run’.

The Comrades Marathon medical team, including Netcare 911 and Netcare, is fully prepared to assist participants in every eventuality, from life-threatening emergencies to strained muscles.

The 2024 Ultimate Human Race marks 23 years of Netcare’s partnership with the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) to provide emergency medical care for participants.

Starting from the Durban City Hall, this year’s celebrated ultramarathon is the first Up Run since 2019, finishing at the Hollywoodbets Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

“Runners tend to find the Up Run tough and more tiring, however, we generally don’t see a significant difference in terms of the number of patients requiring medical assistance compared with Down Run years. Weather conditions tend to be a greater factor, and this year, we are hopeful of mild conditions as the runners head up to the midlands,” said Comrades Marathon Association’s race doctor, Dr Jeremy Boulter.

Dr Boulter has been in charge of co-ordinating the CMA’s extensive provisions for the medical, emergency, first aid and physiotherapy needs of Comrades participants for 44 years.

Emergency medicine specialists, emergency medicine registrars from the University of the Witwatersrand and University of KwaZulu-Natal medical faculties, private practitioners, nurses, and general assistants, as well as emergency medical practitioners, physiotherapists and volunteers, will each fulfil their roles in the meticulously planned overarching healthcare support for the Comrades Marathon runners.

On Sunday, 9 June, Netcare 911 will provide medical assistance to runners at strategic positions along the race route and during the gruelling final stretch to the finish line. The Comrades Finish Medical Facility, which has been a feature of the Comrades Marathon since 1977, is now also supported with a Netcare pre-hospital intensive care unit.

“The melting pot of healthcare professionals from different organisations across the country working together in one of the most complex medical scenarios spread over such a long distance echoes the spirit of unity and camaraderie among runners that this historic ultramarathon is so well known for,” said Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager of emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

“We consider it a privilege to be partnering with the CMA to provide emergency medical care to the runners for the 23rd consecutive race, and our passion for the event is reflected in the fact that many of the same Netcare team members who were there from the start are still a key part of the healthcare services for the marathon 23 years later, in 2024,” she said.

This year, Netcare is bringing its advanced digital platform and point of care technology, from Dr Esihle Nomlomo Inc. administered by Netcare Diagnostics, to the Comrades Finish Medical Facility and pre-hospital ICU set up at the Hollywoodbets Scottsville Racecourse.

Netcare 911 operations director Shalen Ramduth says dedicated resources have been allocated specifically for runners along this year’s 85,91km route.

“This year Netcare and Netcare 911 are deploying 168 healthcare workers, comprising 92 paramedics and 76 emergency nurses, as well as 30 emergency vehicles, including helicopter emergency medical services and road ambulance services for Comrades participants.”

There will be eight Netcare medical stations along the route, and any runner requiring medical assistance can approach Netcare 911 or race marshals. For extra peace of mind, runners and their seconds are encouraged to download the Netcare App, which includes a Netcare 911 emergency call and geolocation function, as well as a 60-second call-back option.

“On behalf of Netcare and Netcare 911, we wish all runners everything of the best for a safe and fulfilling race, and we will be there to provide emergency medical care every step of the way,” Ramduth concludes.

For more information on the Comrades Marathon 2024, click here.

 
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