Medical Care at a Large Vertical Running Event

Christopher J. Nash, Christopher T. Richards*, Gina Schwieger, Sanjeev Malik, George T. Chiampas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Vertical running events, during which participants race up the stairwells of skyscrapers, are becoming increasingly popular. Such events have unique and specific operational and clinical considerations for event medical directors, but descriptions of the medical care provided at these events are lacking. We sought to perform a descriptive analysis of the medical care delivered at a single, large vertical running event. Methods: A retrospective chart review of medical encounters at a large vertical running event from 2011–2017 was performed. Participants competed in either the full course (94 stories) or half course (54 stories); potential patients also included observers. Medical staffing included a main medical station at the finish line, medical way stations along the routes (within stairwells), and medical response teams. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis. Results: During the study period, a total of 23,920 participants completed the event, with 84.6% participating in the full course. Medical staff treated 150 unique patients during 154 medical encounters (0.6% treatment rate). The median age of patients was 36 (IQR 27, 43), and 40.3% were male. Most encounters (66.4%) occurred at the finish line main medical area. Of medical encounters occurring along the race routes, 56.1% of encounters occurred before the halfway point in the full course. Encounters were clustered around medical way stations along the half course. The most common chief complaints were gastrointestinal (27.3%), respiratory (25.3%), syncope/near-syncope (24.7%), trauma (12.3%), and chest pain (10.4%). One cardiac arrest was observed. The most frequent interventions were oral fluids or food (40.3%), respiratory care (18.2%), and minor trauma care (12.3%). An electrocardiogram (ECG) was obtained in 10.4% of encounters, and intravenous fluids were started on 1.9% of patients. Eleven patients (7.3% of treated patients and 0.05% of all participants) were transported by ambulance. Conclusions: Medical encounters during vertical running events, the majority of which are not life-threatening, mainly occur at the finish line but can occur at any point along the route. Understanding the nature and location of medical encounters along a vertical running event route can help inform event medical directors supervising care at these increasingly popular events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


  • disaster planning
  • emergencies
  • resource allocation
  • retrospective studies
  • running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency
  • Emergency Medicine


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