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$40 Pill Helps Athletes Prepare

By Erica Johnson

SIOUX FALLS, SD - Tired of the cold temperatures? Try stepping into the Sanford Heat Chamber where it's a balmy 105 degrees. That's how one South Dakota athlete is preparing for his bike ride through a desert.

While it's helping his body better adjust to those extreme temperatures, the $40 pill he swallows will also provide some very valuable information.

Three months from now, Mike Dunlap will Race Across America for 12 days on his bicycle. He'll ride through nearly every type of environment including the boiling deserts of Arizona, but he can't train for that right now by heading outdoors.

“This is kind of going from one extreme to another so I'm a little anxious how I'm going to react, but I think it's really valuable,” Dunlap said.

In this 105 degree chamber, Dunlap has about five minutes left before he's completed his hour of cycling. What they're hoping to gain specifically is how his body will adapt to these types of temperatures.

They'll know that thanks to the technology in a pill Dunlap swallowed in the morning. It has a sensor that is now sending valuable information to this computer.

“How much sweat he loses, how much fluid he loses and how much he has to take in. We'll be analyzing the sweat to determine how much electrolyte loss he has. This is critical because if he mismanages it when he's biking 20 or 22 hours a day, he can get into trouble,” Dr. Michael Bergeron said.

Fortunately Dr. Bergeron says the results look good today and it appears Dunlap's body is doing a good job dealing with the heat.

With that knowledge, he and Dunlap can build a plan for a successful and safe ride in June.

To complete the race, Dunlap will have to travel 250 miles in 18 hours for 12 straight days. The race starts June 9 in Oceanside, California, and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland.

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