It is the responsibility of the participant to monitor their own individual health.
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
First, I have to say what an honor it is to be emailing you. I am in awe. My question is, do you think that participants should have to have a medical clearance upon registering for a race event - Brandon
First, thanks for the kind words, I appreciate that. As to your question, as race directors, our number one concern is always the well-being and safety of all our participants. That being said, at some point each participant needs to take "personal responsibility" for their own level of fitness and health before they decide to enter a race. Most waivers on the event application (although I know that few people ever read them word for word) do make a statement about the participant claiming they are healthy and fit enough to participate in physical activity. All that being said, however, none of this guarantees everyone in the race is indeed healthy.
Personally (and I won't elaborate now), I just found out for myself the difference between being fit and being healthy. Most runners believe they are fit and they probably are, but what they may not know is if they are truly healthy and if they should be stressing their bodies in a road race or doing any other strenuous activity. Would it be comforting knowing that everyone in the race received "clearance" from their doctors to participate in a road race? Sure it would, but I’m not sure that is practical. Do doctors actually want to assume that responsibility? What is the criterion that determines this anyway? How does the race monitor this and enforce it?
Currently, races certainly encourage participants to take the necessary steps to ensure they will be safely participating in your race. The race, on the other hand, needs to be totally prepared to deal with the causalities when they occur and they will. Certainly weather, and in particular, heat, can be a major factor out of everyone's control.
Additionally, it would be extremely helpful if each runner filled out the emergency contact information, as well as, offer any pertinent medical history on the back of their bib number. This would help both medical providers and volunteers at the event and could mean the difference in saving a life or not.
Again, Brandon, you raise a great topic but in the end and with tens of thousands of participants running in races these days, I truly think it is still the responsibility of the participant to monitor their own individual health and take personal responsibility for having a regular and comprehensive physical to be sure they are healthy and fit enough to compete.