As a former runner at the University of Notre Dame who has completed one stand-alone marathon and three Ironman triathlons, Michael Hartmann has the resume to be a strong competitor in the inaugural Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon on Sunday.
But as an emergency room physician with nine years experience at Edward Hospital, race organizers thought Dr. Hartmann's resume made him even more suited for another position: marathon medical director.
By the numbersMedical directors: 1, Dr. Michael Hartmann, ER physician at Edward Hospital
Doctors on course: 17
ER doctors in the medical tent: 3
Volunteer nurses: 20
Medical tent beds: 12
Ambulances at the ready: 4
Now appreciative of the chance to protect runners' health on a long-awaited day for nearly 3,500 in the marathon and half marathon, Hartmann said he originally had other plans.
"I was actually going to run the race and was going to sign up," he said. "But the day before, they asked me to be the medical director."
Hartmann accepted, thinking his work experience in the unpredictable emergency room and his racing experience in endurance events would serve him well in the medical director role.
"Working in the ER, you never know what's going to come in the door. You've got to be prepared for anything," Hartmann said. "Especially in a marathon, you never know what you're going to experience on the course or in the medical tent."
Sunday's marathon and half marathon routes actually boast 17 medical tents -- one at the start/finish line at Porter Avenue and Loomis Street and 16 others at aid stations providing water, Gatorade, energy gels and orange slices along the course.
Helping Hartmann care for runners' physical well-being will be 17 other doctors, 20 nurses, and plenty more medical technicians, paramedics and volunteers. Four ambulances will be on hand -- two at the starting line and two along the course -- and they'll all be ready to dash to Edward Hospital's main location at 801 S. Washington St. if a runner's condition warrants it.
Hartmann said the race's November date changes some of the preparations he and other medical staffers are making for race day.
"It's actually a unique race. That's why I think a lot of excitement was surrounding this race and why it sold out so fast," Hartmann said. "It's an unusual time to have a marathon."
Medical aid areas will have IV lines ready to help dehydrated runners; automatic external defibrillators in case anyone goes into cardiac arrest; medication to treat allergic reactions; a glucometer to test for low blood sugar; and a variety of bandages and ointments to treat chafing and blisters. But Hartmann said medical personnel are not expecting as many overheated runners as they would during a race in, say, July.
Sunday's high temperature is forecast in the high 40s, although it's likely to be cooler when runners take off at 7 a.m.
"There's always a chance of having hypothermic emergencies as opposed to heat emergencies," Hartmann said. "We will have warming blankets and the fire department will have an emergency response trailer that can be heated or cooled."
Edward Hospital is providing medical services for the marathon as not only the closest medical facility to the race, but also its title sponsor, said Brian Davis, chief marketing officer.
While many hospital employees will be volunteering their expertise, Davis said more than 50 other Edward workers have signed up to race as charity runners for the Edward Foundation. As of late October, he said fundraising efforts had brought in nearly $22,000 for the foundation's unrestricted fund, which can go toward critical hospital operations such as heart care, cancer treatments, surgical services, disease prevention and access to care.
"It was very important for us not just to be the title sponsor, but to also be in the medical directorship and operations and to also have this charity component," Davis said. "It was a whole package."
While bandaging bleeding blisters, soothing scraped skin or helping parched runners rehydrate, marathon medical staffers will be helping support the pursuit of running, an activity that may help stem America's obesity trend and contribute to a healthy lifestyle, Race Director Bob Hackett said.
"Hospitals like to participate in creating health awareness and healthy events," he said. "It makes good sense. Instead of just treating the sick, let's create the healthy."