Extreme and obstacle races are now common events around the country. The extreme racing industry is now bringing in tens of millions of dollars, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Certain races draw in crowds in the tens of thousands, with racers ranging from first-time racers to hard-core athletes.
Of course, runners, or anyone that participates in a certain level of physical activity is exposed to some injury risks. In the struggle to compete with each other, however, some of these extreme races are beginning to add obstacles that are so hazardous that even the most experienced athletes are suffering frequent injuries. Since many of these races marketed to “weekend warriors,” some wonder if they’ve gone too far.
Since 2011, several deaths have been attributed to extreme obstacle course events. Serious injuries included hypothermia, electric shocks and injuries causing paralysis. A Reno man recently began working with Nevada injury lawyers to file suit against one such race after a dive into shallow water left him permanently paralyzed. Unfortunately, this is just one of many such incidents reported in the U.S.
Increased neck and spine injuries are one frightening side-effect of extreme obstacle races. Jumping from great heights poses a danger in itself. When participants in a packed race jump in large crowds, accidents occur from people inadvertently jumping on top of other racers.
Water obstacles are another common safety threat. As well as drowning, slippery, muddy obstacles are often the cause of bone fractures and severe bruising.
Critics of such races point out that many of the obstacles that cause injury, such as plank walking, are inspired by military drills. The problem with this is that, even if they are easier than the drills performed by military personnel, most race participants have received no special training to prepare them for such a risk.
Extreme Racing Liability
Unlike other sporting events, extreme racing has no governing body to ensure safety for its participants. This means that there are no established best-practices for obstacle development. For this reason, some are now calling for government oversight.
While most race participants are required to sign liability waivers, many racers do not fully understand the risks. When large crowds attempt an obstacle, some make a false assumption that it is safe. Even if danger is implied by event marketers, most do not enter events expecting to be injured. As the injury count rises, so does the number of civil cases against race organizers. Waivers can be very comprehensive, but this does not necessarily mean that race organizers cannot be found liable for reckless behavior.
As competition between race organizers increases, obstacles are becoming more extreme. They now include challenges designed to provide an electrical shock to participants or requiring them to scale large walls. It’s important to note that many of these obstacles are not designed by those with medical or fitness expertise. As event planners try to one-up each other, safety experts and Nevada injury lawyers are expressing concern.
Because injuries in extreme racing are becoming so common, some local governments are banning them altogether. In certain cases, event organizers are unable to keep events on the calendar because of difficulty obtaining required insurance coverage. Some races also include complimentary alcohol, which raises additional red-flags for government officials, Nevada injury lawyers and insurance carriers.
Health professionals are warning of additional dangers to competitors, beyond severe injury. Twenty two participants in one Nevada race suffered from an outbreak of Campylobacter coli (C. coli), caused by mud contaminated with cattle and swine feces from nearby farm runoff.
Around the world, competitors have contracted diseases ranging from flesh-eating bacteria to severe stomach viruses. Debris from some courses has entered open wounds, leading to all sorts of medical complications.
No matter how many races an athlete participates in, overexertion injuries remain a risk. The same holds true for injuries caused by extreme heat or cold. Both hypothermia and heat stroke are extraordinarily common for extreme racers.
Of course, many obstacle races are relatively safe, and designed for the casual racer. This does not mean that participants should consider any and all risks before competing. Researching the history of the event and the expertise of race organizers can also be a helpful decision making tool. Nevada injury lawyers can also provide additional information to those with questions regarding an injury received while participating in such an event.