18 October 2019

Dr Adam Castricum FACSEP

I have just arrived home after a brilliant week with the family at the Ironman Sports Medicine Conference in Kona, Hawaii. It was an absolute honour and privilege to be invited by great ACSEP friend, Dr. Bob Sallis, as part of a wonderful faculty in the most magnificent setting at the Royal Kona Hotel. Joining me was our own Hamish Osborne, representing the Kiwis as well as a great mix of the current and emerging heavy hitters in US Sport and Exercise Medicine from both ACSM and AMSSM. The Conference was again a sell out this year and I can understand why. The diverse program targeting “Primary Care for the Athletic Patients” and then specifically triathlon medicine consisted of five half days, initially in the morning and then to the afternoon, with a very close knit group of attendees, one of which was lucky enough to win a spot in the Ironman race next year. Congratulations and a very busy year ahead for our friend, Dr. Sammy Sunshine! ACSEP was well represented with Angus Bathgate and Registrar, Carolyn Stuart, in attendance with their families.

We then had a full day off to explore the “Big Island” where pin point directions from one of our local colleagues took us to one of the famed green turtles, much to my family’s delight. All the attendees could then volunteer to work the medical tent for the big Ironman Triathlon World Championship race on the Saturday in the most brutal heat, humidity and touch of wind that Kona could dish up, all the way winding through the prehistoric lava rock flows that stretched from the top of nearby volcano Mauna Kea to the ocean. Despite this the men’s championship record was broken as were most endurance records this historic weekend - phenomenal! There must be nothing greater for triathletes crossing the line whether in their first or thirty first, whether in their early 20’s or early 80’s than hearing “You are an Ironman!”

Thankfully, whilst busy in the tent after the race mainly with a few bike falls, lots of dehydration issues and the odd interesting cramp presentations, always closely monitoring for heatstroke and hyponatraemia, there weren’t too many serious issues, due to a number of important factors. Not only are the triathletes so incredibly conditioned and mentally tough, but the medical tent is well resourced considering the isolation of the setting with the great teamwork and culture of all those from around the world working to help them in the tent shining through until just after midnight. Indeed, there is more medical expertise in the tent on race day than there is on the entire island such is the concentration of docs and nursing staff who volunteer their time to ensure the athletes can leave the island safely after their race.

Thanks so much to Dr. Bob Sallis for chairing and Joe Federl, Janice and Molly for their seamless organisation of the conference and Paul Berlin for expertly leading the medical tent. Ohana is central to everything here led by these guys. A truly memorable experience with my ohana and one I highly recommend to anyone who wants to take their sports medicine experience to another level, and that’s not just Sport and Exercise Physicians and Registrars, but also GP’s, Emergency Physicians, Intensivists, Anaesthetists and junior doctors. 

I look forward to returning again one day soon.