The second part of my interview with Bill Rodgers and Deb Girard (Exec Director of the Melanoma Foundation of New England) deals with the importance of protecting your skin while training/racing and how runners, as a community, can help make our sport more sun-safe.
One of the challenges with sun safety and running is races, like the Boston Marathon, that are held when the sun is at its full strength. Deb Girard is advocating for races to be run “early in the morning before the heat of the sun or later in the afternoon.”
One of the issues with Boston is that it is so steeped in tradition. Race organizers (who likely weren’t runners! ) set the time of the race at 10:00, with the last wave of participants not crossing the start line until almost 11:00.
Bill Rodgers states that “we need the leadership…the runners have to write in” to directors to ask for earlier start times. Since Boston was one of the earliest races, “everyone based their races on Boston.”
While the start times of many races have shifted to earlier hours, there are still many like the Falmouth Road Race that start at 10:00 in the thick of the heat and humidity that settles over the Cape in mid-August.
I love running Falmouth, but recent years of running in the heat and humidity have made me question whether I will register for it again. Thankfully our sport has tried to keep up with respect to developing better sun protection for us. There are performance hats and sunglasses that help to protect us.
Since we usually don’t wear as much clothing during the heat of the midday sun, it is crucial that we always wear sunblock. Save your skin! Burning is really not worth the increased risk of developing skin cancer!