When Tin Foil Becomes Your Temporary Mother

Over the past month, we have been witnessing in the media, two extraordinary stories. One of extreme sadness, and the other of inspiring fortitude. Although the people in the stories are thousands of miles apart – the former in the United States, the latter in Southeast Asia – they share a common bond, unbeknownst to each of them.

Coach Mindy’s Mylar Blanket from the 1990 NYC Marathon

The link between the thousands of detained, immigrant children in the US, and the resilient baker’s dozen of trapped, youth soccer team cave explorers, is the quasi-comfort they received from a 48” by 72” piece of food-grade polyethylene resin.

Commonly known to marathon runners as Mylar® blankets (a Dupont-registered name), and Heat Sheets® (a registered name of AFM Inc) these NASA-engineered blankets made their debut at the 1980 New York City Marathon. While running, your heart rate rises to approximately 85% of your maximum heart rate, which is sustained for several hours. Then, after crossing the finish line of the 26.2-mile footrace, your body heat drops precipitously. To regulate your body temperature and keep the chill-out, these large silver rectangles are distributed to runners in the finish line chutes.

Marathoners in Mylar Blankets at Finish Line

Although being wrapped in the silver capes could never replace the warmth of a mother’s embrace, they do serve the purpose of providing some comfort and warmth to their wearers. Worn silver-side in, they capture up to 90% of a person’s radiated body heat. Worn silver-side out, they deflect external heat sources, enabling the wearer to regulate their own body temperature.

My own experience with the blankets came after I crossed the finish line of several marathons. As a former competitive runner and current coach for the past 26 years, it was always a badge of honor to walk from the finish line to the post-race area with my fellow marathoners, knowing that we had just achieved an incredible feat.

In what looked like an outer-space movie from a bird’s-eye view, and sounded like swish, swish, swish, the throngs of runners being huddled together as we walked ever-so-slowly to meet-up with our family and friends, were experiences I will never forget.

While there is no common bond between a marathoner and the harrowing experiences of the immigrant children and youth soccer team, and though I will never know how they felt during their sufferings, I do understand how a “large piece of tin foil” may have become a temporary source of comfort.

#runners #marathon #mylarblankets #heatsheets #enddetention #stopseparation ##thaicaverescue #boarteam #thainavyseals #hooyah