The thousands of people who race in the Hospital Hill Run will have extra help training and more medical care at the finish line this year.
Race organizers announced Thursday that the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Health Sciences District will be the event’s main sponsor, and the district’s medical professionals will lend their expertise to runners before, during and after the races scheduled for June 1 and June 2.
“It’s not just a check, but they’re actually physically supporting us with the medical personnel race weekend and the medical advice before the event,” race director Beth Salinger said.
This year’s Hospital Hill Run will be the 45th and Salinger said she expects about 7,000 people to register. The event includes a 5K, a 7.7 mile race and a half marathon.
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The health sciences district formed in May when a group of local, state and private health care providers that are in or near Hospital Hill signed a partnership agreement.
It includes the UMKC School of Medicine, Truman Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital, among others.
“We’re excited to be partnering with the health sciences district, which is made up of all these organizations that bring so much diverse medical knowledge and skills,” Salinger said. “We’re going to tap into those.”
UMKC spokeswoman Stacy Downs said the race sponsorship will be the district’s first major initiative.
The sponsors will host a series of shorter “fun runs” throughout Kansas City to help runners prepare. Salinger said medical staff will be available at seminars in-person and online to consult on how to tell a potential injury from normal training aches and how to prepare mentally for a long run.
“We’ll actually be looking into the sports psychology side of things,” Salinger said.
Salinger said the additional medical staff at the finish line is in no way a reaction to last year’s Rock the Parkway half-marathon, during which 34-year-old Brandon Russell collapsed and died shortly after finishing.
“We hope that we’ve always had a really strong medical team and a really great process of how we handle medical issues,” Salinger said. “You can’t prevent everything but we hope that with our medical team and their preparation we’re going to be in great shape.”