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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Saturday, July 28, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Just this week, we have seen record-breaking temperatures, and while the 70.3-mile trek isn't until September, participants are already here going through the Half Ironman course and through Augusta heat.
It's more than a mile in the water, 56 miles on a bike and 13 miles on the road, but some say that's not even the hardest part.
It's not the waves of the Savannah River these athletes are worried about. It's the heat wave of Augusta summers.
"It's key to get out in this heat because we're here at 8:13 in the morning, and we're already sweating and it's hot, so you can imagine five hours from now what it's going to feel like," said Ironman Training Camp Coach Tony Hammett.
With temperatures near 100 and a heat index even higher than that, it's something these athletes just can't ignore.
"Even the most conditioned athlete should take things easily when they go to a new environment," warned Emergency Medicine Dr. Anthony Saldivar.
Race participant Tamara Burns says, "It slows you down, but you have to be OK with that. You just persevere."
Hammett says preparing for the heat starts before the race begins.
"Call it pre-hydrating. Knowing it's going to get up to, say, 94 degrees, heat index of 100, we start hydrating before," Hammett said.
There are also some tricks to help the athletes cool off during the race.
"When we hand them the ice, they can put the ice down their jersey. Sometimes they'll even put it down their back in their short leg. That will help them. It does trick your body. It can actually lower your heart rate so you can actually save heartbeats. As you're saving those heartbeats, it allows you to use those later on in the course," Hammett said.
Heat isn't the only factor the trainees are facing. Dr. Saldivar says humidity is the real problem.
"Once you get to a high enough humidity, our sweating is not able to overcome that, and we get a rapid increase in our core body temperature," he explained.
The athletes aren't letting the weather conditions get in the way. In fact, they think it might even work in their favor.
"The people from the North might not be used to this humidity. They may have the heat, but not the humidity, so that's where as Southerners we may have the advantage," Hammett said.
Thirty-two hundred people will be coming to Augusta to compete in the Half Ironman on Sept. 30. It's already sold out. The swimming part of the race starts at 7 a.m., but they'll finish by running in the heat of the day.
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