The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Dr. Josef Geldwert to Head the Medical Team For the 2017 NYC Triathlon

Posted by on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

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Can you feel the excitement in the air? The 17th annual NYC Triathlon is almost upon us! On July 16th, thousands of athletes will flock to New York City for a 1,500m swim, 40K bike ride, and 10K run. A Central Park festival and awards ceremony take place after the big race to celebrate individual achievements.

The time to beat from last year is 1 hour, 48 minutes, 31 seconds for men, and 1 hour, 57 minutes, 59 seconds for women. Last year’s top finishers were from Colorado and Missouri, but a local Brooklyn resident finished in third place for the men, and another New York City resident came in fifth for women.

Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, leading Manhattan foot/ankle specialist and founder of The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, will lead the medical team for the NYC Tri. They’ll be busy treating any acute injuries that arise over the course of the event. In this interview, Dr. Geldwert explains what can be expected from such an intense physical competition.

The NYC Triathlon is an intense event, and Dr. Geldwert will be running the event's medical team.
The NYC Triathlon is intense, and Dr. Geldwert will be running the event’s medical team. Image Source: Flickr user Peter Galvin.

1. How long have you been serving as a sports medicine doctor for local NYC sporting events?

I’ve always been involved in sports medicine and sporting events. I was one of the first doctors for the NYC Marathon when it started in 1973. They approached me to head up the medical team for the triathlon 8 years ago.

2. What do you love about working the NYC Triathlon each year?

The Tri is one of those “uniquely New York” events. You get to swim in the Hudson River, which has been tested for bacteria and so forth. The event is only run if it’s found to be clean and safe enough. Next, you bike ride on Manhattan’s West Side Highway, which is closed for the race. Then you finish the last 10 km in Central Park. It hits a lot of iconic locations—that in itself is exciting! There are also many participants from outside the NY area, creating a great deal of buzz surrounding the event.

3. What sort of acute injuries are you expecting to treat on the sidelines? Are there any injuries unique to triathlon competitors?

We see lots of puncture wounds because athletes are running barefoot when they exit the swim area. Small pieces of glass or pebbles will often irritate the bottoms of feet…scrapes, abrasions, puncture wounds, blisters. If the wet feet don’t dry thoroughly, we see blisters.

Weather-related injuries are also common. It’s a hot time of year in New York, so we see heat and dehydration related problems, which really accounts for the majority of NYC Tri injuries.

4. What sort of set-up do you have for the NYC Tri medical site?

There are three areas of the on-site medical center. There is an acute area for dehydration and exhaustion, there is a subacute area for muscle cramps and pulls, and there is a special foot area. We have captains overseeing each of those areas. My co-director, Mark Klion, is an orthopedic surgeon who oversees the captains in each area. There are also physicians at the swim exit and at two transition areas.

5. What issues do you see prior to the NYC Tri?

We actually treat more people leading up to triathlons. Most injuries are overuse injuries, repetitive stress injuries. Preparing for the event requires a lot of training, so most injuries are pre-event injuries. People have to slowly build up in terms of their training. Any of the three event components can cause injury, but usually, it’s running that’s the culprit in terms of training. A lot of newbies and first-time triathletes fail to build up gradually and end up getting hurt before the big race.

6. What advice do you have for first-timers arriving in the City?

  • Walk the course. Because the location is so unique, we always have participants walk the course before they compete on it. The Hudson swim is actually very advantageous—usually with the tide—so it’s very, very fast. You can see where the hills are, scope out the locations of the different legs of the triathlon before you compete.
  • Hydrate. Hydrate the day before the event and continuously throughout the event.
  • Don’t overheat. There is a tendency for newbies to wear wetsuits walking over to the event, not knowing you can overheat before you even get into the water. There’s no need to gear up more than 20 minutes before.

7. What are your biggest concerns for Saturday?

The water is the most dangerous part of the race. We’ve seen four deaths in eight years—heart attacks in the water. They’ve got every inch of the water covered by FF and NYC FF tugboats and coastguard, all covered appropriately. But you have to take the event seriously.

8. What injuries do Triathlon competitors have treated later?

During the bike portion, we’ll get scrapes and bruises from people falling off their bikes. Running-related injuries are most often people who knew they had a pre-existing condition. It’s common to see people at the event with pockets of blood or hemotomas under the nail plate that need to be drained.

9. What considerations go into choosing triathlon footwear?

I always tell people they really need to consider their cycling footwear for a proper fit. Most focus on running shoes, but cycling shoes tend to be narrow, which can irritate nerve compression issues like neuromas. For running shoes, the most important thing is that the shoe matches the individual’s foot structure.

10. What tips do you have for tri competitors to keep their feet in tiptop shape for the race?

Be cognizant of your body. Once you’re up to over 8-9 hours of training a week, the risk of injury increases significantly. You want to be in a shoe that isn’t new but isn’t old. If runners have more than 300-500 miles on their shoes, they should consider changing their footwear. Shoes should be long enough, wide enough, appropriate. If you have any questions, stop by to see me!

Dr. Geldwert’s team will be ready to support the competitors in the 2017 NYC Triathlon. Be sure you train appropriately prior to the event, and visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine if you have any concerns regarding the health of your feet. Contact us today to learn more about our many services. 

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.