Athletics plans to build groundbreaking altitude room


Athletics will be building an altitude room here in the near future.  By having an altitude room, it gives Pioneer cross-country runners an advantage to be able to adjust to oxygen levels.

“As distance runners, our bodies rely on the amount of oxygen our red blood cells and hemoglobin can carry to our muscles. The higher you go from sea-level, the less oxygen there is in the air,” junior cross-country runner Douglas French said.

Freshman Ryan Roush runs ahead of teammate Jordan McKelley in the GLIAC championships where he finished in eighth place. The cross-country team will be one of the largest beneficiaries of this new altitude room. (Photo courtesy of Bo Trusty)

“When you train at altitude, your body becomes accustomed to the use of less oxygen and your red blood cell/hemoglobin count will rise. Once you come down from altitude, the oxygen levels will be higher and you body will be able to use that extra oxygen and higher RBC count to assist your muscles in fatiguing slower.  Since we can’t train at altitude, living in an altitude room is the next best thing,” French said.

This would be a big thing for the cross-country team. It comes with several benefits.

“There are many benefits of altitude training and the most benefits come from spending a large amount of time in it,” junior cross country runner Sara Polatas said. “For example, taking a training trip to altitude for a week is great, but you truly do not adjust and get the benefits of it unless you spend at least a few weeks at altitude. Since there is nowhere to go around here to get high altitude training, the altitude room can provide similar benefits.”

“As far as I know, there are no other teams that have an altitude room,” Polatas said.

Altitude rooms are not popular in the cross-country world; in fact, Malone would be the first program to have one built.

“I do not know a whole lot about it yet, but it definitely sounds like a good idea and that it could be very beneficial,” Polatas said.

The altitude room will also be beneficial for not only cross-country runners, but it will be open for nearly everyone who attends Malone.

“The Hypoxico altitude simulation system is not a “sure thing” but a possibility for us,” athletic director Charlie Grimes said. “It will not be exclusively for cross, but rather an addition to our campus for the Exercise Science majors program and all of athletics.”

The NCAA has approved this and many are excited about this being built.

“I hope to have the project completed this summer—before the 2013-14 school year,” Grimes said.

“We would like to have a room by this summer but that may be  wishful thinking” head coach Jack Hazen said.

There also will not be any worries about how it will be paid for.  The company who will be building it will donate the equipment for an exchange in research on the students who use it.

Grimes is hoping that the system will be built in Penn, Gurney, or Barclay being those have the most space available.

PGB would be the best place to set up the altitude room because the rooms have controlled air flow that does not exit to the outside.

But if it’s in PGB it could affect the female athletes due to visitation rules.

[pullquote]It will not be exclusively for cross, but rather an addition to our campus for the Exercise Science majors program and all of athletics.”[/pullquote]

“It would affect male and female athletes in the same way.  We may be limited to one room so we would have to determine who would get to use it first,” Grimes said.

This is a great and exciting thing for the athletes.  With the altitude room, their red blood cells, which are the carriers of oxygen will increase, and by that happening their endurance shall as well.

“The athletes are very excited about an opportunity to both improve their ability as athletes and be a part of a research to determine its validity,” Hazen said.

Malone’s cross-country team is by far one of the best in the GLIAC, let alone nation, so with this enhancement they can only get better.

Justin Davis is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.

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