Monday, November 15, 2010


On Sunday, November 7, the New York City Marathon was run by 46,000 athletes, making it the largest race on earth. Students from Swedish Institute, as well as SISTEM therapists, joined in the excitement of the day by caring for athletes at the start and finish of the race. Charles Pegg, director for Offsite II, and Executive Director of SISTEM, created the following time line of the day to give a sense of just how much our team of therapists accomplished.

6:00 am
Race day started early for two of our senior therapists who were hired to work for the NYRR at the Continental VIP tent in Staten Island. Natalie and Teruko get on the sponsor’s VIP bus and head to the start line.

7:30 am
Natalie and Teruko provided pre-event support to the athletes in the Continental VIP tent. They were done by 10:30 am and driven back up to the finish line in Central Park to join in there.

Meanwhile Scott and Will loaded the van with equipment for the SISTEM teams in the medical tents, the OS II student training events with Fred’s team, and the area for runners from the FDNY.

9:00 am
SISTEM Supervisors Thom, Carrie, Natalie, Brenda, Lori, Betsy and Kendall met at the corner of Central Park West and 66th St. (During visits to the NYRR Operations Trailer to provide paid stress reduction teams throughout race week, I had decided on having us meet tucked out of the way on the North East corner. This was quickly changed by popular need to the sunny West side of the street. The weather was brisk and our race day plans were escalated!)

9:30 am
Twenty-five SISTEM therapists and interns met, signed in, and were placed into teams and dispatched to medical tents.

9:45 am
We passed through security and our teams were established in one of four medical tents around the finish line in Central Park. We were provided with “bibs” that said LMT and worked as part of integrated teams alongside equally bibbed physical therapists, nurses, medics and doctors.

10:00 am
The first wheel chair athletes crossed the finish line.

10:45 am
Extra Wonder Warmers were delivered to each SISTEM team.

What are Wonder Warmers? These are brilliant little heating devices: Silicone bags filled with saline solution. Food grade and environmentally friendly, they trigger a crystalline reaction, get hot and stay hot for 40 minutes. They can be boiled to reuse. A great product that’s invaluable for the cold. Temperature control is always a large part of our service and from the forecast we were expecting a chilly day. Thankfully, our wonderful product sponsors were able to provide for our race week’s needs. Having them made us the envy of all the other practitioners.

11:30 am
Carrie and I started working with the elite professionals. We provided emotional support, cramp relief, temperature control, pain management and more cramp relief. Interesting to see how we fit in to the plans of the other practitioners. Who wants to do what and what are the different techniques being used? Always nice to see the other modalities warm to our approach and usefulness. The WWs helped too!

12 noon
The equipment team delivered tables and admin supplies to the FDNY OS II event at a hotel in midtown.

12:30 pm
Supervisor Jen, SISTEM therapists and Renee’s FDNY team report in to work at the OS II site.

12:45 pm
OS II student therapists reported to work, were signed in and briefed, then set to work with the fastest FDNY finishers.

1:00 pm
Natalie returned from the VIP tent and rejoined the SISTEM teams that were hard at work looking after the quicker athletes. Cramp relief, muscle tears, exhaustion, temperature controls, breath support and backing up the medics doing BPs, temps, electrolyte readings, IVs and oxygen.

1:30 pm
Student intern teams were assembled and allocated to bolster the medical teams. We met up, distributed passes and walked in past the streams of athletes in the finish line shoot. The crush of bodies, the vibe, the smells! We worked the current, regrouped and interns were distributed to medical tents along the way.

2:00 pm
The equipment team delivered massage tables and admin supplies to the second OS II event with Fred’s Team at their hotel in midtown.

2:30 pm
OS II supervisors, Taiine and Jess, reported in and prepared to work.

2:45 pm
OS II student therapists reported in, were briefed, prepared and set to work with the Fred’s team athletes that run for Memorial Sloan Kettering charity.

4:00 pm
FDNY OS II interns finished their 3-hour requirement. Through this event, most students find they’ve realized their massage skills and are thrilled by the experience; some volunteered for more and other therapists were reallocated to assist the firemen.

5:00 pm
More interns were requested to back up the farthermost medical tent and we responded with a team of five, bringing extra blankets and WWs. We were busy immediately and the students did a great job providing basic skills. This stuff works and the students’ confidence lights them up. The suffering athletes appreciate the work; recovery times improve.

5:30 pm
By this time, medical tent 5 and Brenda’s crew had seen 1,000 athletes. This number was announced as 400 more than the number at the main finish line tent. A cheer went up! One hundred cots were still full of athletes waiting for care.

6:00 pm
Fred’s team OS II wrapped it up and the equipment team joined the supervisors with the FDNY.

Medical tents were closing and we were still providing care. The older and the slower athletes, having given just as much, if not more than the quickest of pros, needed a little help and a moment of care to get them home.

7:00 pm
Over 3,000 competitors were cared for today. Skills and products were utilized and recognized. Next, we needed to get equipment back to the school.

Slowly, we were able to congregate, greet each other and share stories of the day—how Will was able to show an MD how to treat a cramp, how often we’re the ones to have hands on first, the things we do well. Opportunities were earned for races and situations to come.

Volunteers were thanked, especially Hallie for being there first and for her admin support, Chisato for her language skills, Sang for stepping in when necessary, Kasha for being there at the end and all the others that did something special that went unseen!

Thanks also to Dr. Weiss and the New York Road Runners, who have stepped up and started to include us. There’s more paid work and volunteering on its way…. so get prepared and be ready for next year!

Charles Pegg, LMT
Offsite II Supervisor
Executive Director of SISTEM