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Hopkins Sports Medicine/Rehab Expert Re-ups

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Media Contact:  John Lazarou
May 15, 2006

Hopkins Sports Medicine/Rehab Expert Re-ups As Four-Desert Race Doctor

A Johns Hopkins sports medicine expert has signed on as medical director for some 120 Brian Krabakathletes competing in the annual 4-Desert Race, a series of weeklong footraces that cover 150 miles total.  The event starts May 28 in the Gobi Desert in the Inner Mongolia region of Northern China.

The competitors, elite, invitation-only athletes, will run in the Gobi, Atacama (Chile) and Sahara (Egypt) deserts and in Antarctica (a virtual ice desert), carrying their own gear and food supplies.  The race courses through rough terrain along mountain trails and in narrow canyons, with temperatures ranging from more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes from 50 feet to more than 10,000 feet. 

“I did a stint as medical director last year and found it to be an amazing and life- appreciating experience,” says Brian Krabak, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency and Rehabilitation Sports and Musculoskeletal Fellowship Programs.  “This event lets me balance my work in sports medicine and my research interests in endurance athletes.”

Krabak, 38, whose clinical and research interests focus on the prevention and non-operative treatment of sports injuries, will lead a team of six medical specialists from the United States and China who will make the tough decisions about allowing racers to continue competing.  “The athletes face multiple challenges in extreme conditions, and my job is to keep them healthy.  Dehydration and sprains are usual in races like this, but racers tend to ignore them. I don’t,” says Krabak.

This year, Krabak will work specially with Patrick Rummerfield, 52, of Maryland, who is believed to be one of the first, if not the first, fully recovered quadriplegic, and who will race with the group.  Rummerfield has run in several events, including an Iron Man and a race in Antarctica.  Rummerfield is a patient relations liaison at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine, the KKI Center is directed by John McDonald, M.D., an associate professor at

Johns Hopkins and a physician who treated the late quadriplegic actor Christopher Reeve.  The focus of the center is to develop and employ advanced restorative therapies for people living with paralysis.

“Patrick’s body does not handle extreme temperatures as well as other people.  He can easily dehydrate and have a heat stroke,” says Krabak, who has also participated in several endurance competitions, including two-day adventure races, 350 mile/seven-day mountain bike race in Canada, and Ironman and Olympic distance triathlons.  “The adrenaline and stress running through the body of these athletes take them to a level where they don’t notice the danger they might be in.  With Patrick, this can happen much faster, so the medical team has to be very careful.  However, I am amazed by Patrick’s ability and stamina. He has a message to get across, and I am sure he will finish this race.”

Both Krabak and Patrick Rummerfield will have a daily journal during the days of the Gobi Desert race, as well as a photo gallery at

Daily journals of the other competitors, a complete photo gallery and information about the three remaining races can be found at

-J H M I-

About RacingThePlanet®

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation:

The International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute or