amateur scientist wrote:
As I watched the race, I was surprised by the clothing choices of the elite runners. Most went with the wind/water resistant jackets and waterproof gloves, which seems logical for the weather. However, they are not best for racing conditions.
Racing conditions cause you to produce more heat and sweat than a typical training run, especially of marathon length. The problem is that breathe-ability of these weather proof/resistant materials becomes essentially useless when you sweat inside the jacket, creating 100% humidity both inside and out. With 100% humidity, the jacket no longer is breathable, insulation capabilities will suffer, and you are essentially running in wet garbage bag that saps your body heat because the persistent wetness does not allow humidity escape. Cold, wet clothes without breathe-ability or insulation are a recipe for hypothermia.
Knowing this from being outdoors in the winter a lot, I don't wear the waterproof stuff for a race in cold and wet conditions. I would have gone with a material that retains heat and maintains breathe-ability while wet, like merino wool or a synthetic material.
Anyways, that's my theory about why so many elites dropped out today.
A better choice today for all would have been a rain vest like the pro cyclists wear, it would have kept your trunk dry but you could dissipate the heat via the arms, just wearing arm warmers. Of course a wool cap and gloves as well. Maybe some type of oil on the legs.