I just spent the better part of the day volunteering as a Hot Walker. [Note: this has nothing to do with Christopher Walken, modelling runways, or the few days I just spent in Vegas.] If you want to know what it was, keep reading.
Today was the 31st annual LA Marathon, a 26.219 mile race from Dodger Stadium in the hills of Elysian Park, through the streets of LA, to the sea at the Western edge of the United States in Santa Monica. Thousands of people gathered from around the world to participate in this event; some professional, elite athletes and some who could barely walk, much less run.
Given that an average sized person, running at an average pace is going to burn close to 3,000 calories, and that it’s going to take the average person around 5 hours on a good day, most of the participants of this event find themselves exhausted at the end. Cramping, dehydration, nausea, and pain are only a few of the things people might feel after an endurance event such as this. Many people cross the finish line and within a few yards, find themselves collapsing.
This is where the Hot Walkers come in.
Because there is a limited amount of space and there are thousands of people flooding into the finish area, a lot of people collapsing could cause quite a traffic jam. The Hot Walkers are volunteers whose job it is to assist the wobbly-legged and the cramping to keep moving. Some people who are new to marathon running think they can just sit down after they’re done with the race, not knowing that if they don’t slow down gradually, their muscles can cramp up rather severely.
I came to the Hot Walkers through my volunteer work with the Medical Reserve Corps, which I’ve been volunteering with since Spring of 2015. When the opportunity came for a deployment like this, I jumped at the chance. I’ve seen a lot of athletes in a lot of conditions and while I’ve treated a number of marathon runners, triathletes, and ironman endurance athletes, it’s always been in my office; this is the first chance I’ve had to attend such an event on the ground floor. I wasn’t working as an acupuncturist, but it was valuable experience; plus, I got to help a bunch of people.
I’m sure that I’ll be back again next year.
To all my friends and patients who participated in this year’s LA Marathon, I’d like to say congratulations on a job well done!
Jorga Houy, L.Ac.
Photo credits: all photos from Jorga Houy