In a tragic turn of events, a marathon runner was struck by lightning while competing in a marathon in Italy last weekend. Sadly, she was killed in spite of the best efforts of the medical staff.
— YOU Magazine (@YouMagazine) August 1, 2019
The lightning came as no surprise, as severe thunderstorms had been plaguing the Italian countryside. In fact, the storms had already forced the organizers’ hand, at the 75-mile Südtirol Ultra Skyrace. They had to stop the event 30 minutes earlier than usual, unfortunately, the news came far too late for the unidentified entrant. As it turned out, she was in an are between aid stations and far from any form of communication.
— Podisti.Net (@podistinet) July 29, 2019
“The athletes held up at Antran, the Rifugio Punta Cervina and the Rifugio Kesselberg [aid stations],” organizers said in a statement on the race website. “Some athletes though were on their way between these spots and could not be reached by the track marshals.”
MALTEMPO: Forte temporale in Alto Adige: Atleta norvegese di 45 anni uccisa da un fulmine durante la Suedtirol Ultra Skyrace nei pressi del lago di San Pankrazio in val Sarentino (Bolzano) pic.twitter.com/qnMhUVGSF3
— BreakingItalyNews (@BreakingItalyNe) July 27, 2019
The late runner was later identified as a 44-year-old Norwegian woman, who was struck at about 7:15pm. At the time, she and other runners were in the vicinity of Lake San Pancrazio in the mountainous South Tyrol region. The area surrounding the lake is said to be roughly 6,955 feet above sea level. Following the tragedy, the organisers also withheld the identity of the perished runner
La morte di Silje #Fismen durante la Südtirol Ultra #Skyrace.
La Procura di #Bolzano ha aperto un fascicolo contro ignoti nel quale si ipotizza il reato di omicidio colposo.https://t.co/rHRSzcS3Zu@TgrRai @RaiNews
— Tgr Rai Alto Adige (@TgrAltoAdige) July 29, 2019
According to race organizers, other entrants who witnessed the lightning strike called for medical help. The statement continued, “After first aid, the injured athlete was flown to Bolzano hospital by the rescue helicopter Pelikan I, where she succumbed to her injuries.”
Die Norwegerin wurde in 2.100 Metern Höhe tödlich verletzt. Sie war Teilnehmerin des Ultra Skyrace. https://t.co/su3YTcEX31
— KURIER (KURIERat) July 28, 2019
— Michael Pekovics (@michpeko) July 28, 2019
In another statement, chair of the Organizing Committee of the Südtirol Ultra Skyrace, Josef Günther Mair, confessed that the organization was “shocked and deeply shaken” by the tragedy.
— RP Online Sport (@rpo_sport) July 28, 2019
“We express our deepest condolences to the family of the athlete.”
— Meister-Warti (@MeisterWarti) July 28, 2019
This ultramarathon was slated to be “the most extreme experience in the Alps,”, probably a little too extreme in this case. The 2019 ultramarathon witnessed a record participation of 850 participants from more than 47 countries.
L’atleta stava partecipando alla Suedtirol Ultra Skyrace.https://t.co/aeXhKrPrNc
— La Stampa (@LaStampa) July 27, 2019
In the wake of the tragedy, the award ceremony for the marathon, which was set for Sunday was canceled.
Die Norwegerin wurde in 2.100 Metern Höhe tödlich verletzt. Sie war Teilnehmerin des Ultra Skyrace. https://t.co/yMWpvorSPG
— KURIER (@KURIERat) July 28, 2019
The odds of being struck by lightning are about 1 in 15,300, according to the National Weather Service. However, the study also says that only 10 percent of such encounters are fatal. One such example was in March 2019, champion surfer Luzimara Souza was killed in a lightning strike near where she was training.
Nella Südtirol Ultra Skyrace, che gli organizzatori stessi definiscono "l'esperienza più estrema che si possa vivere sulle Alpi", una corsa in montagna di 121 km, ci è scappato il morto, un'atleta norvegese colpita da un fulmine. L'organizzazione sostiene… ma che sostiene?
— Gennaro Carotenuto (@GenCar5) July 28, 2019
There are also a number of possible injuries associated with being struck by lightning. They include broken bones, nerve and muscle damage, hearing loss, cardiac arrest and stroke.
Tragedia durante l'Ultramaratona in Alto Adige. Un'atleta norvegese muore colpita da un fulminehttps://t.co/d8gjUmUIsC
— Tgr Rai Trentino (@TgrRaiTrentino) July 27, 2019
Contrary to popular belief, severe burns are not usually associated with lightning, as the current is in the body too briefly to heat up tissue. The injuries are often worse if there are metallic objects present, like golf clubs or metal detectors.
Un'atleta è stata uccisa da un fulmine durante la Suedtirol Ultra Skyrace, una gara di corsa in montagna di 121 chilometri con partenza e arrivo a #Bolzano. L'identità e la nazionalità della donna non sono per il momento note.
— Ultime Notizie (@ultimenotizie) July 27, 2019
In one instance, a victim’s iPod served as a natural conductor for a lightning strike. It is possible that the victim may have had an electronic device to aid him her running, but there has been nothing to confirm this.