The Importance of Water Stations at Races

The body requires adequate fluids to run well. There is simply no way a runner will reach his or her running potential when dehydrated. Experts generally recommend that runners drink 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Race directors generally understand the importance of providing plenty of water in longer races, such as marathons, and races usually have multiple water stations to ensure hydration for all runners.

It is a good thing that race directors recognize the importance of providing water stations because courts certainly have. In a 2002 California case, the court found that a marathon race director could be liable if he or she does not provide sufficient water stations.

Besides the legal issues involved, a dead give-away for a poorly run race is the lack of water stations and/or not enough water at such stations. It is a real problem when a water station runs out of water because sometimes the people who need fluids the most are those individuals in the back of the race. These runners may not have the physical conditioning of higher-placing runners and the lack of water can be dangerous.

Before running any marathon, a runner should inquire about the number of water stations and ask past competitors about a race’s water station capabilities. Additionally, a race should provide electrolyte drinks, such as Gatorade, in addition to water. The body loses electrolytes when running and plain water does nothing to replenish them.

Water stations may not be the first thing you think about when signing up for a race, but they can be one of the most important aspects to consider.

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