Minnesota’s changing climate helped drive record temperatures, prompting organizers to cancel the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, the first weather-related cancellation in the race’s 40-year history.
Sunday’s temperature officially reached a humid 92 degrees in the Twin Cities, and climate change will likely add “a few extra degrees of heat,” said Kenny Blumenfeld, chief climate scientist for the state Department of Natural Resources. He said there was a strong imprint of climate change in the fall wave. The previous record for that day was 87 degrees.
“This was an unusual thermal event for this time of year,” Blumenfeld said. “We typically don’t have 90 degree days in October.
“In the Twin Cities, this was the hottest October day on record, dating back to the 1870s.”
The heatwave came on the heels of the warmest September since records began.
Blumenfeld said climate change is fueling the expansion of Minnesota’s hot weather season over time, meaning months when 90-degree readings can occur. He noted that the increases will continue in the future, although there is a limit to this trend because the position and strength of the sun in October in Minnesota is the same as in March.
This trend will likely disrupt the Twin Cities Marathon again. The marathon, which attracts about 20,000 runners, is typically held in the first week of October — with the desired temperature range in the 40s, said Eli Ash, race director for the Twin Cities Marathon. The 40s have only been done about five times since the marathon began in 1982.
When asked if the organization might postpone the marathon date to later in October, Ash said the 2024 race had been confirmed for October 6, the first Sunday of that month. But he said the organization takes into account many things when it sets the date, and basic operating conditions are one of them.
Marathons are organized across the country with cooler temperatures in mind, with Boston in April, New York in November, and Louisiana in January. But October in Minnesota is getting warmer. Temperatures have reached at least the mid-70s on race day in each of the past three years. They have now jumped above 80 degrees four times since 2006, having not reached that high since the marathon began in 1982 until 2006.
Marathons can quickly become dangerous when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. More than 300 runners needed emergency medical calls in 2004 Boston The marathon where temperatures reached 86 degrees. More than 300 ambulances were recovered in the area 2007 Chicago The marathon is when temperatures rose from the 70s at the start of the race to 88 degrees by midday.
Climate change hit Minnesota and the upper Midwest hardest in the fall and winter, when temperatures rose fastest. It changes the way people recover. Minnesota lakes have lost an average of two weeks of ice cover since the 1960s. Weak ice early this year caused the cancellation of a large number of fishing derbies and winter festivals. The DNR had to change catch limits and catch-and-release regulations as more open water led to more pressure from anglers. The nation’s largest cross-country ski race, the American Birkebeiner, was canceled in February 2017, due to a lack of snow in northern Wisconsin.
As for the runners, they are still digesting the missing marathon on Sunday.
“It’s like Christmas has been cancelled,” said Elaine Szostak, a sales representative at the Northeast Minneapolis Running Club and Store. “All of our runners are in this weird place, saying: ‘What am I doing? I’ve only been training for months!’”
Szostak said she is working on her master’s degree in public health and quickly linked the cancellation to the climate crisis. She was working on a project about the environmental impacts of the running shoe industry, with Low-impact alliance, a non-profit organization founded in South Carolina. She said that the shoe industry emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. This needs to be turned around.
“It will probably take a lot of these races being canceled for brands to notice that we as an industry have an impact on the climate — and if races are canceled customers won’t come to buy shoe brands,” Szostak said.
“It’s a conversation we need to have.”
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