When competition got underway at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Qatar recently, some athletes were ready to keep tabs on more than their speed.
About 200 runners volunteered to swallow red-and-white capsules containing data transmitters. It’s part of International Association of Athletics Federations research into the effects of heat and body-core temperatures. They couldn’t have picked a better time or place—Doha, where the daily high is typically 100 degrees in early October, and less than a year removed from the Olympics in Tokyo, where conditions are expected to be every bit as stifling.
Most of the study volunteers come from endurance events such as the marathon, 10,000 meters and race walks, with the marathon and race walks being held outside the air-conditioned stadium.
“We’re learning a lot from these elite athletes with this technology,” Dr. Paolo Emilio Adami, medical manager for the track federation, told the Associated Press.
About two hours before a race, runners in the study are asked to swallow a capsule—the size of a typical antibiotic—that contains a transmitter and battery. The capsule works its way into the intestines by race time with equipment set up to sync with the transmitter after an athlete finishes. The transmitters record body-core temperatures; if that runs too high, it could indicate heat stroke.
American marathoner Roberta Groner of Montclair, N.J., volunteered for the project. No surprise, given her background is in nursing. “I’ll do anything for research,” said Groner, who finished in sixth place. “It’s good data for the sport and for myself to find out how I did throughout the competition.”