Gatineau Loppet organizers say racers’ safety a top concern

Racers at the start line during the 2016 Gatineau Loppet.

The doctor in charge of the Gatineau Loppet’s medical team says it’s important for racers to look out for the warning signs of excessive fatigue or dehydration during this annual cross-country ski competition.

Hundreds of cross-country skiers from all over the region — and beyond — are about to converge here for the annual Gatineau Loppet.

There’s a wide range of experience among skiers competing in races ranging from 2 km (for children) right up to 51 km.

Dr. Mario Dumas said inexperienced racers should be sensitive to their bodies, especially if they are competing at these distances for the first time.

“If they don’t feel right, I would suggest they talk to the EMS or the first aid patrol along the race path so they can then be taken care of,” said Dumas.

“There will be people at the start and at the arrival area. But in between, will be more EMS, emergency medical stations, and all these stations have, usually, two patrollers with AEDs [automated external defibrillators]. And they have first-aid personnel. And they will also have a Ski-Doo for quick evacuation, if needed.”

The loppet’s medical team has checkpoints throughout the courses and all race volunteers have a direct line of communication with medical staff, said Dumas.

There’s special awareness on safety for this event given the death last Saturday, of an Ottawa doctor who was participating in the Canadian Ski Marathon.

Pioneering doctor dies during Canadian Ski Marathon

Dr. Cheemun Lum, 51, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on Saturday on a ski trail near Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Que., where he was participating in the Canadian Ski Marathon alongside his wife and friends.

Cheemun Lum

Dr. Cheemun Lum was a renowned physician at the Ottawa Hospital. He died of cardiac arrest while participating in the Canadian Ski Marathon on Saturday. (The Ottawa Hospital)

Dr. Grant Stotts was a friend and colleague of Lum’s at the Ottawa Hospital.

“I think we just spent the first day in shock, not really believing it happened,” Stotts told Robyn Bresnahan on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.

“I certainly couldn’t believe it, because I was just skiing with him a weekend ago and he was fine. We just skied along like we usually did … and absolutely nothing seemed wrong.”

An avid outdoorsman, Lum was participating in the first day of the Canadian Ski Marathon between Lachute and Gatineau, Que., when he collapsed and died.

“He loved the outdoors; he did most of his activities with his family. He was really a family-oriented person who did cross-country skiing and mountain biking trips with his family several times a year,” said Stotts.

Races for the Gatineau Loppet, which bills itself as the largest cross-country ski event in Canada, get underway Saturday.


Article Source: CBC

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