Obstacle Course Racers Deal With Mysterious "Spartan Rash"

Spartan Race was held in Marseilles, Ill. on July 20

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013  |  Updated 11:31 PM EDT
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Dozens of racers continue to suffer from a rash, more than two weeks after competing in a Spartan Race. Natalie Martinez reports.

Dozens of racers continue to suffer from a rash, more than two weeks after competing in a Spartan Race. Natalie Martinez reports.

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A number of amateur athletes who participated in an extreme obstacle course race in Marseilles, Ill., more than two weeks ago continue to deal with a severe rash that has spread across their bodies since the event.

Dubbed the "Spartan Rash," because the athletes appear to have contracted it during an event called The Spartan Race, it presents as blistering, red patches described as being very itchy and uncomfortable. Officials said they were continuing to investigate whether the rash was poison ivy, swimmer's itch or chiggers.

The Spartan Race is an obstacle course race. Obstacles have participants traversing through water and mud. The events are held around the country and around the globe throughout the year. The event in Marseilles was July 20.

"It sucks for those that are dealing with it," race director Mike Morris said in a statement released last week. "I think every racer understands the inherent risk of crawling through mud, swimming through swamp, and running through the woods but we still never want to see our racers leave the event and have the event stay with them like this."

On a Facebook page dedicated to the "Spartan Rash" that's collected nearly 200 followers, users have been sharing details of their experience and attempts at remedies.

"Training with this rash has been next to impossible as it causes me to sweat and itch like crazy," user Jesse Valdez wrote on the public group. "I did try the rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, oatmeal baths, tea tree oil but no help my rash spread over the weekend so my doctor sent me to the dermatologist. I can't wait for this to finally stop spreading and start to heal."

Officials with the Illinois Department of Health confirmed they're aware of the rashes but said they weren't in a position to offer guidance on the topic as of Tuesday afternoon. An official said the agency is still putting together a questionnaire to be completed by race participants.

UPDATE: The Illinois Department of Health's survey is now live. IDPH officials ask that everyone who participated in the race complete the survey, whether or not they're showing rash symptoms.

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