Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cross Country Runner Dies From...Drowning?

It appears that a high school cross country runner from South Florida died due to drowning. Officials speculate that Corey McKenzie felt overheated during his race, and waded into a lake near the course where he became entangled in some plants and drowned.

McKenzie, 15, was pulled out of a shallow lake at Vista View Park in Davie on Tuesday, almost 17 hours after his race ended. Broward Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said McKenzie, a sophomore, likely suffered from heat exposure, or even heat stroke, and accidentally drowned after he went into the lake to cool himself and got tangled with plants in the water.

This is the first time that I've ever heard of a runner drowning while attempting to cool themselves off during a race. It is definitely a tragic event, but now the FHSAA wants to mandate more course monitors, the use of bicycles or golf carts to track the runners, and has thought about possibly moving the season to October. Though, some of the cross country coaches from the area don't think that those type of measures are necessary.
Coach Roy Chernock, of John I. Leonard in Greenacres, said there is no need for mandates.

"We are professionals," Chernock said. "We don't need for them to give us rules if we can handle what we are doing. ... To push for more rules would be a disservice to our sport."

I ran cross country in high school, and never felt so overheated or dehydrated that I felt the need to seek out a lake or pond to take a dip in. It is unfortunate that McKenzie passed away while trying to cool himself off, but I don't think a bunch of new rules should be put in place as sort of a kneejerk response. Setting up one or two water stations along the 3.1 mile course should be enough to help with any type of dehydration issues, and it should keep the runners from having to seek out an alternative water source.

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