The Problem of Heat
“Bronte Shirts” is a tool used to help keep a runner cool in extreme heat. I developed this tool in conjunction with a star athlete and her mom I was inspired by marathoners Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor. Meb and Deena used this tool successfully at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Bronte was my star runner and eventually became the top runner at UCLA. She was strong, dedicated, rarely injured, and extremely fast. However, she struggled in extreme heat. Something in her system did not handle heat well. Even though she hydrated properly, she became very flush, and her performance suffered in heat. She was favored to win the League Finals race her senior year. But Bronte was genuinely concerned, because the forecast for race time was for the mid- to high-90s.
Olympic History and how a runner can keep cool
How can a runner keep cool? I remembered that for the 2004 Olympic marathon in Athens, USA marathoners were provided with a unique experimental vest/jacket to wear during warmup. It contained ice or cold water in various pockets. This kept the runners’ core temperatures down by delaying the onset of sweat until the last minute. This prolonged the time leading to dehydration. Meb earned the silver medal and Deena, the bronze. They attributed this invention for their ability to cope with the extreme heat and humidity.
The “Bronte Shirt” is born
I spoke with Bronte about the jacket/vest idea the week before the race. She and her mom then took several t-shirts, soaked them in water, and put them in the freezer overnight. When she arrived at the race, she pulled several frozen shirts out of an ice chest. Bronte then wore them while awaiting the race and during her warmup. She completely dominated the race and said she “never felt better during the heat.” So, the “Bronte Shirt” was born. I have taught this trick to athletes and parents ever since. It has had a significant impact on the ability of my runners to perform better than most in severe heat. I saw a cooling vest designed by Nike being used at the 2021 US Olympic Track and Field Trials in Oregon to help distance runners with the extreme heat. It works!!!
Here is a link to some of the top cooling vests for runners