Summer Workout Risks: Chicago Half-Marathon Runner Died Last Weekend

Summer workout risks like dehydration, heat stroke, and exhaustion might seem like an old wives’ tale designed to sell bottled water and sunscreen, but the death of Zachary Gregory in the Chicago Half-Marathon on Saturday proves they’re all too real: The 26-year-old personal trainer collapsed of exhaustion while running in the extreme heat on Saturday morning, and was sent to the hospital along with 11 other runners from the race. His cause of death hasn’t been determined, but Gregory was pronounced dead at 9:52 a.m., less than three hours after the start of the race.

Race officials gave the race a yellow flag due to heat and humidity shortly after it began, and they actually cancelled the race at 9:15 a.m., turning off timers and clocks to prevent runners from pushing themselves too hard in the heat. Buses were available to take people to the finish, but some runners continued the course.

While Gregory was an experienced runner, and had reportedly trained for months to prepare for the race, his tragic death goes to show that even the most experienced, fit athletes aren’t immune to the effects of heat. Check out our tips for how to work out in steamy weather, and when in doubt, head to an air-conditioned gym. You might miss the outdoors, but you’ll probably be a lot safer.

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