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Care of Kona Ironman World Championship triathlon athletes requires preparation

Orthopedics Today, July 2017

Although far from being an endurance athlete, I have had the distinct pleasure of being a volunteer physician for the past few years at the Ironman World Championship, a triathlon held yearly in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. I thought I would be most needed to address athletic hip conditions. However, I was placed in the unfamiliar role of a primary care provider, treating mainly volume-depleted athletes. Because I was working outside of my comfort zone, I was glad to learn two orthopedic surgeons, as well as a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, were working alongside me.

Up until that time, my athletic experience took place long ago and was limited to sports with a ball, as a football running back. Humbled by my first Olympic triathlon performance (or lack thereof) several years ago, I have since gained great respect for endurance sports and the athletes who compete in them, especially at the world-class level. To that end, I have invited a faculty panel of three physicians (two past Ironman finishers) and one senior past Ironman finisher, to share their thoughts on the most common, severe and interesting conditions they have seen and treated in the elite triathlete.

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