Went watching a Fell race yesterday in the Pennines. The weather was atrocious, severe gales with intermittent heavy rain. We walked the 10K course in the opposite direction to which it was ran. We went prepared in full waterproofs and i wore my Buffalo jacket beneath my mountain Goretex jacket. Runners have to carry or wear full waterproofs, although some were running in just vest and shorts with their water proof gear in their bumbags.
As someone who has run for over 50 years, I know that even on very cold days you soon warm up once running especially at racing pace. I also know through bitter experience that strong wind and cold rain are ideal conditions for hypothermia.
I was videoing the race as best I could, but the wind was knocking me about all over the place so it was difficult to hold the camera steady.
We reached at point close to the high point of the race when a familiar figure raced past. he was from a nearby club and a veteran of vast felling running experience. We did note that he too was not wrapped up enough for the conditions and not wearing his water proofs. It is true that on a short distance of 10K, you can usually wizz round that fast you don't feel the chill.
The big problem is that when racing especially you can chill off considerably without noticing it until it becomes a real problem, it has happened to me.
When running one can run right through the 1st stage of hypothermia without realising it, then quite suddenly you are in stage two quickly followed by stage 3.
If you at stage 3 and in the middle of the moors or mountain, you are in real danger. All the strength goes, you get tunnel vision, you cannot talk coherently, you can barely stand on your feet, muscles cramp up, and you are on a slippery slope, going downhill fast. you just want to curl up into a ball as you have no strength to do anything else.
The vetera who passed us, running well at that stage, 3 miles and 30 minutes later, was in that very same place. Fortunately he had managed to make it lower down the track leading to the finish but all but collapsed with a half mile to go, and had to be supported the rest of the way to the finish, where the mountain rescue medics set about re-warming him. i saw him, he was in terrible state and was extremely lucky that he hadn't collapsed a mile or so further back.
This just shows that even experienced people can fall victim to hypothermia, the real problem is that you don't know how dangerous it really is and how helpless you quickly become, until it has happened to you and you are lucky enough to have survived it.
Dave.