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The study found that in a sample of healthy long-distance runners, more than 80 percent showed signs of acute kidney injury right after a marathon.
“We know that bouts of acute kidney injury in the hospital, such bouts of injury are not good. But the case may be completely different for healthy people,” lead author Dr. Chirag Parikh told Fox25Boston.com.
The signs of kidney injury only last a few days, but the concern is that it might lead to long-term problems for long-distance runners.
“If somebody's running several marathons, over time, maybe it can lead to cumulative damage,” Parikh said.
Even the most experienced marathon runners know a race of 26.2 miles is no picnic.
“I've never finished one and said, oh, I feel great,” said one runner on a training run Wednesday.
But the study raises special concerns for runners who may have pre-existing kidney issues they might not know about – especially if they're tackling a difficult course like Boston.
“We're kind of running downhill, flat and then you're up and down in the hills. So that puts a strain on the body,” Shane O’Hara from Marathon Sports said.
The study reinforces a simple rule many runners know all too well.
“Some of them run marathons without drinking fluids properly and they need to stay hydrated,” 2017 Boston Marathon entrant Christopher Battoo said.
Runners are taking the information in stride, but it won’t stop them from competing.
“Even knowing this study, I'm still going to run. It's something I love to do,” 2017 Boston Marathon entrant Meagan Kelly said.