Health & Safety

Health Risks

The Rotary Ultra Team Challenge is a serious physical undertaking. If you don’t take proper precautions, participation could cause adverse health conditions that could ultimately result in death.

Please be aware of the following risks:


Dehydration is the condition of having insufficient fluid in your body tissues. There is a serious risk of dehydration in a long and strenuous event like the Rotary Team Challenge. Dehydration can lead to impaired performance, vomiting and, in very extreme cases, muscle failure potentially resulting in death.


  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Tight/heavy feeling muscles
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth and lips

Note – Symptoms of dehydration are only apparent when you are already dehydrated. Symptoms are very similar to those of hyponatremia.


  • Drink electrolyte drinks instead of, or in addition to, water. Try these during training to ensure you can drink them comfortably.
  • Monitor your urine and make sure you are urinating at regular intervals and that the urine is light yellow to clear.

If you are not urinating or your urine is dark in colour, you may be dehydrated. If you experience any of the symptoms of dehydration, consult the medical staff at the nearest checkpoint or follow emergency procedures.




Hyponatremia, or water intoxication, occurs when you have consumed too much water. This results in reduced salt levels in the blood and body tissues. It is an extremely dangerous condition that can rapidly lead to a coma and may result in death.


  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lack of coordination

Note – these symptoms are very similar to those of dehydration.


  • Drink electrolyte drinks instead of, or in addition to, water. Electrolyte drinks contain salts and thereby assist in maintaining the correct salt balance in your body. Try these during training to ensure you can drink them comfortably.
  • Monitor your fluid intake. Drink just enough so you don’t feel thirsty and are urinating at normal periods. If urination becomes frequent and clear-coloured, you may be drinking too much.
  • To pre-hydrate during the two to three days before the event, use sports drinks at 50% concentration instead of water. Normal intake should be approximately 5ml/kg, five times per day for base hydration. For example, if you weigh 75kg, drink 375ml five times per day.

If you experience any of the symptoms of hyponatremia, consult the medical staff at the nearest checkpoint and follow emergency procedures.




Hypothermia is a condition in which your core body temperature drops below 35° Celsius. If left untreated, hypothermia can ultimately result in heart failure and death.


  • Fatigue
  • Shivering
  • Muscle spasms
  • Clammy skin
  • Stammering
  • Hallucinations


  • Carry warm clothes and be prepared for dramatic temperature drops.
  • Wear extra layers of clothes. Change into warmer clothes when it gets cold, especially at night.
  • Carry, or have your support crew carry, a change of clothes in case you get wet.
  • When you rest at checkpoints, either cover up or change out of damp, sweaty clothes to avoid catching a chill.

If you experience any symptoms of hypothermia, consult the medical staff at the nearest checkpoint and follow emergency procedures.



Heat Exhaustion

During hot weather, the body’s internal temperature can rise resulting in heat exhaustion or heatstroke. In extreme conditions, heatstroke can ultimately lead to heart failure and death.


  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Irritability
  • Severe headaches

Note – As the condition worsens, symptoms include confusion, decreased responsiveness, little to no sweating and flushed hot dry skin.


  • Maintain adequate fluid intake.
  • In exposed sections of the trail, wear sunscreen and a hat.

If a member of your team exhibits symptoms of heat exhaustion, find a shady area, administer frequent sips of water and follow emergency procedures.




Chafing is a common discomfort during long distance events like the Rotary Team Challenge.


  • Underarms, nipples and legs are all prone to chaffing. Put band-aids or a hypoallergenic tape over the nipples and apply anti-friction skin balm (not petroleum jelly) to the other areas.
  • Chafing between the thighs can be tackled with bike shorts or by shaving the affected areas and applying tape.
  • Wear a base layer of clothing that pulls perspiration away from your body. This helps with both chafing and reduces chills from sweating. Outdoor stores have a full range of ‘wicking’ clothes for just this purpose.


Managing Your Medicine

Take caution when using painkillers and other medicines during training and the event. For example, the overuse of painkillers like Nurofen can lead to serious health complications and hospitalisation. We advise participants to seek medical advice regarding the use of all medicines.

We also suggest that participants consider a planned approach to taking medicines, including painkillers. This minimises the risks created by poor decisions that can easily occur due to exhaustion or a lack of knowledge.


Personal Condition at Event Time

We also suggest that participants consider a planned approach to taking medicines, including painkillers. This minimises the risks created by poor decisions that can easily occur due to exhaustion or a lack of knowledge.

Your ability to safely complete the Rotary Team Challenge is greatly impacted by how you’re feeling just before the event.

Factors to consider:

  • Are you recovering or suffering from an illness?
  • Did you participate in another endurance event within two to three weeks of the event?
  • Did you have a big night out (i.e. late night and/or high alcohol intake) within a week of the event?
  • Have you been on a long­ distance plane trip within 48 hours of the event?

If you answer yes to any of these questions or, just prior to the event you feel less than 100% for any reason, reconsider participating in the event and seek advice from your physician.


How to Recognize and Prevent Heat Stroke and Heat Illness During Exercise

Even the most highly conditioned athletes can become victims of heat stroke if they don’t take special precautions when exercising in hot, humid weather. Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related conditions and it should be treated as a medical emergency.

Other conditions common in the heat like heat cramps, and heat exhaustion are less serious and generally require less drastic measures of treatment than heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency in which the body’s cooling systems stop working and the core temperature can rise to dangerous levels. Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, dry skin, lack of sweating, a very fast pulse, confusion and perhaps seizures or coma. If untreated, heat stroke can be fatal.


Heat Stroke and Athletes

Athletes generally suffer a slightly different type of heat stroke called exertional heat stroke. In exertional heat stroke, victims continue to sweat, despite the increased core temperature. For athletes, the diagnosis of heat stroke is made with a core temperature above 105 F and mental status changes, such as confusion, disorientation and clumsiness. You may collapse and go into a coma if symptoms are ignored. If any of these symptoms of heat stroke are present, emergency treatment and cooling the patient immediately is essential.


Heat Stroke Treatment

Treating heat stroke immediately is essential to avoiding life-threatening complications. Stop activity. If exercising in hot conditions and you feel a headache coming on, or you feel weak, dizzy or nauseated, stop exercising and seek a cool, shaded place. Drink cool water. Take a cool shower or bath, jump in a lake or river of find a garden hose and cool off.


Heat Stroke Prevention

Preventing heat stroke begins with preventing heat exhaustion. This includes acclimatising to hot conditions slowly, staying well-hydrated and avoiding exercise during the hottest part of the day. Hydrate well before and during exercise and replace lost electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium with food or a sports drink (drink 16 to 20 oz/hour).

Wear light, loose clothing or wear clothes made with wicking fabrics such as CoolMax®, Drymax®, Smartwool or polypropylene. These fibers have tiny channels that wick the moisture from your skin to the outer layer of the clothing where it can evaporate more easily. Use sunscreen to prevent sunburn, which can limit the skin’s ability to cool itself.

If you notice any of the symptoms of heat illness, stop activity and seek a cool shaded place. Remember, it is easier to prevent heat illness than to treat it once symptoms develop.


Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

Athletes and serious recreational exercisers are at high risk for contracting sun-related skin cancers because of the increased amount of time spent in the sun, the lack of protective clothing and the constant sweating. Extra hours spent outdoors in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer or melanoma. Regardless of your skin color, anyone can develop some type of skin cancer.

The reasons for the rise in skin cancer in athletes include:

  • Increased time doing outdoor activities
  • Decrease in the coverage of clothing worn
  • Increased sweating

Skin cancer can occur in anyone; however, some characteristics may increase your personal risk, such as:

  • Fair skin
  • Blue, green, or hazel eyes
  • Light-colored hair
  • Freckles
  • A tendency to burn rather than tan
  • A history of severe sunburns
  • Have many moles (over 50 – 100)
  • A personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Work outdoors


Preventing Skin Cancer

The following tips can help you prevent skin cancer:

  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors; reapply every two hours.
  • Avoid exercising between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand. They reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
  • Do not burn.
  • Any time you notice a new or unusual area on your skin, see your physician.