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Marathon Runner Dies After Being Struck by Lightning

Marathon Runner Dies After Being Struck by Lightning

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.

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.

“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.”

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

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.”

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.

“We express our deepest condolences to the family of the athlete.”

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.

In the wake of the tragedy, the award ceremony for the marathon, which was set for Sunday was canceled.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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