Pattern of injury and illness during expedition-length adventure races

Kyle A. McLaughlin, David A. Townes, Ian S. Wedmore, Robert T. Billingsley, Chad D. Listrom, Leslie D. Iverson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective. - To describe injuries and illnesses treated during an expedition-length adventure race and combine the results with those from previous studies to identify common patterns of injury and illness during these events. Methods. - The 2003 Subaru Primal Quest Expedition Length Adventure Race was held in Lake Tahoe, CA, from September 5 to 14, 2003. Eighty teams of 4 individuals participated. During the event, medical volunteers providing on-site medical care recorded each medical encounter on a medical encounter form. This information was used to describe the injuries and illnesses treated and was combined with previous investigations to identify common patterns of injury and illness during these events. Results. - During the 10-day study period, 356 patient encounters and 406 injuries and illnesses were recorded. The most frequent reason to require on-site medical care was injury of the skin and soft tissue (70.4%), with blisters the single most common of these injuries (45.6%). Other reasons were orthopedic injury (14.8%), respiratory illness (3.7%), and heat illness or dehydration (3.7%). Conclusions. - The results of this and previous studies demonstrate a common pattern of injury and illness that includes a high frequency of skin and soft tissue injury, especially blisters. Injuries and illnesses such as altitude illness, contact dermatitis, and respiratory illness varied considerably among events. The number of patient encounters per athlete is similar among the studies, providing an approximation of the number of medical encounters expected given the number of participants. These results should assist medical providers for future events; however, it is imperative to carefully review the individual event to best predict the frequency of injury and illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-161
Number of pages4
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adventure race
  • Event medical support
  • Ultraendurance
  • Wilderness multisport endurance event

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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