AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Some high school athletes who took part in the Westside High School Invitation Cross Country meet, at Diamond Lakes Park, had to be treated for heat-related illnesses. Two of them had to be hospitalized.

A cross country meet turned into a trip to the hospital for some local athletes Thursday due to high temperatures. A situation that serves as a warning about working or exercising when heat indices rise into the triple digits.

“We want our kids to go out and be competitive and be able to do things. But, at the same time, we want them to be safe. And being safe means that we have got to be careful and respectful of the temperatures here,” frequent guest at Diamond Lakes Regional Park John Hilton said. 

Thursday evening more than 600 high school students gathered to compete in the Westside High School invitational Cross Country meet. 

“If my child was participating in a sport event and it was outside like that, I’d be making sure that those events are occurring early in the mornings or late in the evenings,” Hilton said. 

The U.S. The Department of Agriculture says that about 700 Americans die due to extreme heat each year.

“This has been an unusually hot summer, and I was born and raised in the south. I cropped tobacco– did all that kind of stuff, this I have never seen,” Hilton said.  

A handful of students were reported to have been impacted by the temperatures with heat-illness.

The Richmond County Board of Education released a statement saying 

“Georgia High School Association requirements for a cross-country event were followed including taking the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature, having an immersion tub at the finish line and providing a water station on the course.”

“People that are actually coaching– actually supervising these athletes– they need to be well aware of the symptoms of heatstroke, that kind of stuff,” Hilton said. 

Hilton tells me it’s as simple as knowing the temperature. 

“Respect the weather here. We’re in the South, but the world is changing in terms of how the climates are. When we’re looking at digits that are approaching triple digits and stuff like that– to me that’s not a good time to have athletes out. We just gotta be more responsible.”

People I spoke with say they come to walk or run these trails for exercise, but they still keep in mind the summer heat and its effects.