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Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2011

2nd man who collapsed during Kansas City obstacle course dies

August 11, 2011

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— A second contestant who collapsed in the sweltering heat during an extreme obstacle course event in Kansas City last month has died.

Jeff Fink, 31, died Tuesday at a Kansas City hospital, the Meyers Funeral Chapel Northland in Parkland, Mo., reported on its website. Fink's official cause of death hasn't been determined, but a secretary at the Maynard, Iowa, school where his father works emailed staff that Fink was being treated for heat stroke.

The organizers of the race said they were saddened to learn of the Fink's death, which followed the death last week of another race participant, 28-year-old Jeremy Morris. The July 30 and 31 Kansas City race occurred on the same weekend that a 21-year-old college student was paralyzed from the chest down after diving into a mud pit at another Warrior Dash event in Genesee Township, Mich.

Lauren Shield, an organizer with Chicago-based Red Frog Events, which puts on the Warrior Dash races, said in a phone interview that the deaths of Fink and Morris are the first since the company began organizing events in 2009. It is projecting that 700,000 participants will compete in the approximately 35 races the company has planned for this year.

She added in a written statement that safety is the group's top priority and that employees "genuinely care about our racers and spectators."

At the Kansas City race, organizers provided double the standard amount of water trucks and cooling stations and provided triple the amount of water bottles for all racers who competed on the 3.1-mile obstacle course, Shield said.

But the weather proved too much for some of them.

The National Weather Service said the high temperature on July 30 in the Kansas City area was 92 degrees, but that the humidity made it feel like 100 degrees. There was an excessive heat warning in effect the following day when the temperature hit 97 degrees but it felt more like 105 degrees.

Kansas City Fire Department spokesman Joe Vitale said the department responded to 13 calls for assistance from the event and that six people were taken to hospitals.

The last 90 minutes of the race were canceled.

The Kansas City Health Department hasn't confirmed either Fink or Morris died from heat-related causes, but it is investigating 24 suspected heat deaths that have occurred since June.

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