Heat, humidity and tropical systems have been the archenemy of athletes during these Olympic Games, and the closing weekend will bring even more of it.
While heat and humidity in Japan throughout July is common, these levels were above average. Tropical systems can also occur in July, but traditionally the peak months in Japan are August and September.
Organizers tried to help athletes escape the heat and humidity by changing event venues and times for the first few weeks, but this will continue to disrupt the next marathon.
It is not only the temperatures but also the humidity. When both are high, conditions can be overwhelming for athletes.
When your body gets too hot, you sweat to cool off. But if the sweat cannot evaporate, the body cannot regulate its temperature. You need evaporation to effectively cool your body.
When relative humidity is high, the body’s evaporation rate decreases, according to the National Weather Service. In other words, the human body feels hotter in humid conditions.
To find cooler temperatures, the Olympic marathon events are taking place this weekend in Sapporo.
Sapporo, about 500 miles north of Tokyo, can be up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit colder.
But the high temperatures that hit Tokyo are spreading across the country. It will be cooler in Tokyo on Saturday than in Sapporo. Due to the rain forecast, Tokyo’s high temperature on Saturday will be 88 and Sapporo’s will be 93.
The women’s marathon takes place on Saturday morning while the men run on Sunday. This weekend, Sapporo will experience low morning temperatures of around 77 and afternoon highs of 90 to 93. These temperatures are 9 to 13 degrees above normal.
Temperatures during both races will likely be between 80 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. A relative humidity of 70% to 80% will make it warmer.
The organizers have postponed the start of the women’s race an hour earlier, at 6 a.m., to avoid the heat.
Will this hour make a difference? Sunrise in Sapporo is around 4:30 am now. With the start of the race at 7 a.m., the sun will have been up for 2.5 hours before the start of the race.
For comparison, let’s say you’re a runner trying to beat the heat with an early workout in Atlanta, where the sunrise is around 6:50 a.m. It would be like doing your workout between 9:30 am and 11:30 am – not exactly the best time to run.
The only relief in temperature could come from a tropical storm that will dump buckets of water on athletes this weekend.
Here are Saturday’s predictions for the women’s marathon:
You can follow the storm here.
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