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Ironman Start Time Changed, Racers Still May Wilt


Because of brutally hot temperatures forecast for Ironman race day in Coeur d'Alene, the grueling event will start a half-hour earlier than usual - 5:30 in the morning.

Race managers promised they'll do everything they can to cope with temperatures expected to climb above a hundred degrees Sunday afternoon, including more medical attendants along the course, more misting stations, lots of water, sponges and ice.

Still, the 2,000 or so racers - and tens of thousands of spectators - will be much more susceptible than usual to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.

Doctor Joel McCullough of the Spokane Regional Health District said heat-related illness is preventable, but - as he put it - if athletes and spectators are already thirsty before heading outside, they're already on their way to dehydration. That goes for Hoopfest as well.

Mark Allen, who is a six-time Ironman world champion, said racers must pay attention to sodium intake.

He was involved in a medical study several years ago which taught him he'd deplete sodium reserves - in 90+ temperatures - in about three hours. Allen credits taking salt tablets for his first Ironman victory in 1989.

The Ironman race demands a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of bike racing and a full marathon running competition.

The Ironman organizers also announced a date change for next year's event. It will be held in August instead of June.

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