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Medical Care by Athletes for Athletes

A lot can happen during a race. “Dehydration, hyperthermia, abrasions, sprains, and fractures, are all common,” said Dr. Jesse Coenen, medical director of the NorthShore Inline Marathon and family medicine physician at St. Luke’s Medical Arts Clinic. That’s why Dr. Coenen has been busy pulling together a team of athletic trainers, physical therapists, nurses and physicians to make sure that anyone who is injured receives great care.

As an avid participant in endurance events himself, Dr. Coenen is the man you want when you need help mid-race. “Endurance sport medicine is fascinating to me, and I can completely understand what the athletes are experiencing since I’ve been in their shoes many times before.” He has also been on the medical team at numerous marathons and Ironman triathlon events.

Dr. Coenen cares for a patient at St. Luke’s Medical Arts Clinic in downtown Duluth.

Dr. Carl Rasmussen, another St. Luke’s physician who will also be medical volunteer at the race, understands the allure of endurance events as well. From Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, Dr. Rasmussen has had lots of experience in being a volunteer physician, as well as a participant in various races. “It’s a unique challenge to organize high-quality medical care for endurance athletes outside of a formal clinical setting, but it’s also very rewarding,” Dr. Rasmussen said. “I have a lot of respect for anyone who commits themselves to training for and participating in an event like this one.”

St Luke’s medical headquarters for the race will be located near the finish line. Stocked with plenty of supplies and professional volunteers, this team will be well prepared for whatever health needs arise during the race. In addition, the course is continually monitored by Ham radio operators to communicate course safety, weather, accidents and medical vans.

What’s the most important piece of medical advice both Dr. Coenen and Dr. Rasmussen offer racers? Make sure you get out there and have fun. “This applies to race day, as well as the other days of the year,” Dr. Coenen said. “The primary goal of the NorthShore Inline Marathon is for people to have fun and be healthy.” So, as the big day approaches, participants can race confidently knowing an entire team of medical professionals are ready and waiting to take care of any health need they may have.