Modern Athlete Mag Issue 155 MA_Issue 155 | Page 21


Comrades 2022 Medical stats

With 13,213 Comrades Marathon runners on the start line on 28 August , of which 11,709 finished the race within the 12-hour cut-off , the Comrades Marathon ’ s medical team had another busy day on their hands , as reported by Comrades Marathon Association ( CMA ) Race Doctor , Dr Jeremy Boulter .
The official medical statistics for the 2022 race show that 341 runners received medical treatment at the Comrades Finish Medical Facility at Moses Mabhida Stadium . Of these , 221 were attended to at the main medical facility , while 120 runners received R & R , rubdowns , strapping , massage and mild treatment at the St . John ’ s Tent . 82 patients were treated in hospital , and of those , 28 were referred from the medical facility at the finish , whilst the rest were taken directly from the route . Of those 82 patients , 19 were admitted to hospital , seven of whom were admitted into the ICU , but had all been deemed stable within two days of the race .
Recovering in hospital after collapsing in the stadium and falling into a two-day coma
placed Junaid in an inflatable ‘ rubber duck ’ raft filled with ice water . More ice was placed under his arms and over his body to help cool his core temperature and cold intravenous fluids were administered . Intubated and ventilated , Junaid was soon stable enough for Netcare 911 to transfer him to hospital , here he remained in a coma for two days .
Road to Recovery
Unbeknownst to Junaid , when he appeared on TV , he was recognised by a fellow member of Team Impi cycling club , Dr Shabbir Dawood , who works as a physician and nephrologist practising at Netcare St Augustine ’ s Hospital . Dr Dawood not only recognised his friend , but also realised that he would need immediate hospitalisation .
The CMA has over the years , implemented extensive medical , emergency , first aid and physiotherapy provisions for participants . Provided by Netcare 911 and Ampath Laboratories , these much-needed medical amenities are made available at strategic positions along the route and at the finish . This comprises eight physiotherapy stations , a fleet of ambulances , several rapid response vehicles , a team of paramedics , a dedicated emergency helicopter , a three-bed , fully equipped ICU-type resuscitation area , a critical care emergency facility on the finish line , and the St . John ’ s Ambulance Tent .
Dr Boulter says , “ The Comrades Marathon is a tough race , and the aim of our extensive medical provisions is to allow us to help a runner in just about any medical eventuality . The majority of the runners who were attended to at the medical facility were dehydrated and exhausted . Although these are fairly minor symptoms , our medical staff had another busy Comrades race day , but all within their grasp .”
“ I have looked after patients who ran the Comrades previously , and I could recognise signs that made me realise he would need care in the ICU to recover ,” says Dr Dawood . “ I phoned his wife immediately , and we started making the arrangements to book a bed and prepare for his admission to Netcare St Augustine ’ s Hospital .”
Under Dr Dawood and the multidisciplinary medical team ’ s care , Junaid eventually woke from his coma on the Tuesday after the race , and was treated for a few days in ICU to recover from heatstroke and acute kidney damage . “ I received so many calls from people who were concerned for Mr Bhayat , and we were most pleased to report that he was discharged from hospital a few days later ,” adds Dr Dawood .
Once able to speak again , Junaid thanked the Comrades Marathon Association for the medical support provided to him and other runners on the day . “ My family and I are very grateful , firstly to God for enabling me to survive , and for all the doctors , nurses , paramedics and others who helped me in my time of need , and for the amazing support we ’ ve experienced , especially from Dr Dawood ,” Junaid says . “ I would also like to express my thanks to my friends who tried to get me to the end of the race , even though they were so exhausted themselves , and to Dr Dawood and the other doctors and kind ICU nurses who cared for me at Netcare St Augustine ’ s Hospital .”
Incredible Team Effort
Junaid ’ s survival is testament to the team effort by all the medical personnel on duty at the 2022 Comrades Marathon , says Mande Toubkin , Netcare ’ s General Manager : Emergency , Trauma , Transplant and Corporate Social Investment . “ The teamwork behind the scenes for the Comrades Marathon was absolutely in the spirit of this celebrated South African event , with medical teams coming together from various organisations to provide emergency assistance to runners .”
With its extensive experience in setting up and operating field hospitals , including the Comrades Finish Medical Facility , the Netcare Group has been a medical partner to the Comrades Marathon for the past 21 years . Nursing staff in attendance at the facility were from the emergency department of Netcare St Anne ’ s Hospital , a Trauma Society of South Africa ( TSSA ) level 1 accredited trauma centre . Also , all along the race route , Netcare 911 was part of the coordinated efforts of the medical management behind the scenes of this major international sports event .

Rest in Peace , Comrades

Sadly , the 2022 Comrades Marathon saw two athletes pass away during the race , as confirmed by the CMA Race Doctor , Dr Jeremy Boulter , who reported that two runners got into distress at different points along the route Initial reports showed that Mr Phakamile Ntshiza ( Race No . 53126 ) passed away before he could be transported to hospital while running close to the halfway mark , while Mr Mzameleni Mthembu ( Race No . 56904 ) suffered a heart attack whilst running along the Pinetown stretch of the Comrades route . He was taken to the Westville Hospital , where he later passed away .
CMA Chairperson , Mqondisi Ngcobo said , “ We share our sympathy and condolences with the family , friends and running mates of these two athletes . We will continue to have them in our thoughts and offer them our support as they deal with their loss . We would also like to thank the medical staff and volunteers who assisted in quickly providing whatever assistance they could to these athletes .”