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High school runner shares warning about heatstroke after collapsing during meet

Jul 28, 2021 06:18AM ● By Editor

Watch the KSTP-TV Report here

Chase Doornink.  Photo: Natalie Doornink

By Jessica Miles of KSTP-TV - July 27, 2021

A video shows cross-country runner Chase Doornink — with his teammates running behind him and others cheering at the sidelines — as he finishes his first race back after collapsing from heatstroke.

"It was a great moment to have my team by my side, first race back," he shared.

That was in August 2018 when Doornink was 15 years old.

He was running a 5K, which is just over 3 miles, in his hometown of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Temperatures were in the 80s and it was very humid.

"Around mile two, my body started to go numb and I couldn’t feel my body," Doornink recalled. He never made it to the finish line, collapsing with about 200 meters left. Fortunately, there was a hospital just down the hill from the race.

Chase was wheeled down the hill in a wheelchair to the emergency room.

He suffered exertion-related heatstroke, and his body temperature had jumped to 107 degrees.

"I was very close to dying. It was insane hearing that," he said. "It was pretty eye-opening, and it makes you live your life differently."

"This is going to be what I would call black-flag conditions: A combination of temperature, humidity and sun is going to be such that you probably shouldn’t be doing much," said Dr. William Roberts, an M Health Fairview family medicine physician.

Roberts said heatstroke happens when a person's body temperature rises to dangerous levels, which can impact many organs.

"Heatstroke affects your brain, so you forget or just don’t realize that you were in trouble, even when you’re getting into trouble," Roberts said.

Cooling down in temperatures below 80 degrees is essential if you have to be outside, and breaks and water are a must.

"If you normally would work for an hour with no rest, you’re going to be working for an hour with probably two 15-minute breaks to stay safe in those kinds of temperatures," Roberts said.

Doornink has recovered and is now sharing his story to raise awareness of the dangers.

"If I’m able to help people through this thing, this could open other peoples' eyes to what is happening and save a life," he said.

Doornink is now visiting colleges and meeting with cross country coaches as he looks to wrap up his senior year in 2021-22 and continue running at the collegiate level.

Hennepin and Ramsey counties both have cooling centers for people who need help staying cool during the upcoming hot days. An excessive heat watch remains in place for many parts of the state over the next couple of days.

To watch the original report and see related stories, follow this link to the KSTP-TV website.