Running with the Bears is a very rural race which is why so many people absolutely love it. The rolling hills, the clean, fresh air, the ranches and large parcels of land. There is a serene beauty running through Greenville. Just driving from the city to a town of 1200 people surrounded by enormous trees will assist you in relaxing.
As with all things, there are pros and cons to urban versus rural running. In the city, I deal with the vehicles and their fumes, people not paying attention or even being irritated as I run past. Along with heavy traffic and fumes I watch for bikers, other runners, road hazards. I wait minutes for lights to change and still have to be cautious crossing the road. I have to be constantly aware of vehicles passing me more than once, I carry pepper spray when I’m alone which is rare since safety is always a concern. Rural running doesn’t have these challenges. On the contrary, there is little traffic and fumes, uneven roads, cones and construction, no lights to wait for and much friendlier people. Rural running is so idyllic that I forget the biggest thing I take for granted when I’m running in the city. Medical assistance.
Mountain Lifeflight operates as a stand alone rapid air ambulance transport service dedicated to providing quality emergency medical and critical care services to the super-rural communities of Northeastern California. (Modoc, Lassen, & Plumas Counties). They are located at the Susanville Airport in Lassen County near Lassen National Volcanic Park and are equipped to respond to 911 emergency calls by helicopter and interfacility (non-scheduled) emergency transports with fixed wing aircraft. They employ approximately 30 employees and are ready to provide service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Mountain Lifeflight was founded out of a need to provide rapid air ambulance transportation to communities in extreme rural locations.
They also do some amazing things for Running with the Bears. Brian Gray, Program Director who has worked with Mountain Lifeflight for 14 of it’s 20 years in operation, donates an ambulance to us. This is no small feat. There is only one ambulance in town. If it’s at our race, any emergency has to be handled by local volunteers and first responders. If an ambulance is required, it would take 30 minutes for it to arrive from Quincy, a neighboring town. Having one designated to our race is more than incredibly generous. The cost to have the ambulance sit at the race is $1500. This doesn’t include the fuel, the helicopter, the insurance or the man hours that are all volunteered by staff at Mountain Lifeflight. With the Bears new medical tent that has been built and Brian’s generosity, we have our runners covered.
Rural situations are more tricky to handle than those that occur in the city so the minimum training that each responder and pilot has to complete is much more rigorous. Many of the staff has worked in extreme rural conditions such as Alaska and the minimum amount of hours as a pilot and hours of paramedic training is far exceeded by everyone at Mountain Lifeflight. This is the crew that gets called into situations that no one else goes into. We are incredibly lucky to have them.
As far as running in Greenville, CA for Running with the Bears, there are some things that will assist you in not needing medical assistance. Although we love having Mountain Lifeflight there, we hope they get to be there just to have fun with us. There is no real indigenous threat locally. Most allergens are in Spring, there may be a bee or two and you’ll be surrounded by Pine trees, but otherwise, no real threats. The biggest threat to runners are, well, runners. Temperature and hydration are the two most common medical problems that you will face.
Temperatures start off cool at our race, but as you’re warming up, so is the temperature outside. Being aware of increasing heat is Brian’s primary suggestion. Heat cramps occur first when your body is throwing off too many electrolytes. Stay out of direct sunlight and sip water. Second is heat exhaustion which is a more shocked state of the body where you become pale, blood sugar drops and you may feel like you’ll pass out. This is the point when receiving an IV of fluid with IV glucose sometimes becomes necessary. Finally is heat stroke. This is a medical emergency where you become red, flushed and unconscious. Internally, your body becomes so hot, it shuts down the ability to sweat. Understanding the effects of heat on your body and being aware is your best defense.
In addition to heat issues is the importance of maintaining hydration; although Brian said that most seasoned athletes like runners are generally very good about staying hydrated. Running with the Bears provides ample aid stations along the course to help with hydration and all of our volunteers have been trained in basic first aid. Again, be mindful and listen to your body’s needs, then rest assured, our team will be there if you need us.
When you cross the finish line, a cold beverage and the Polar Plunge awaits you!!!