Economic Times, December 22, 2007
PARIS: The conventional wisdom that marathons are a dangerous cause of fatal heart attacks is a myth, says a study, which found that the staging of these races in fact reduces deaths - from road accidents. The media like to headline the sudden deaths that occur among marathon runners, but the truth is that by blocking off roads to stage events, organisers save lives from traffic mishaps, it says. Researchers led by Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto in Canada randomly selected 26 established marathons involving three million participants over a 30-year period. Each of the marathons had at least 1,000 runners and took place on US roads. The investigators recorded the tally of fatal heart attacks that occurred in the marathons, as well as the number of fatal accidents that happened on the same roads during the same hours, one week before and one week after each marathon. They also tallied deaths that occurred in state counties outside the marathon route, to see if these had been affected by a spillover in traffic caused by closed-off roads.