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IU Dance Marathon keeps students awake for 36 hours

IUDM 2010 John Elliott

By Hallie Robbins

By the time IU Dance Marathon concluded Sunday morning, 36 hours after it began, dancers and committee members might as well have been delirious.

“There are two parts to this, the mind and the body,” said Kristen Malmstrom, graduate assistant for the fitness and wellness department in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. “They’re going to feel exhausted. There will be problems with coordination, alertness. It’s an impairment.”

Maggie Pinnick, a member of the marathon relations committee, was a dancer last year. After 24 hours, she took her first of the committee members’ two allotted breaks by squeezing in a quick nap.

“Because we’re committee members, we’re throwing the marathon for the dancers, and that’s why we get breaks,” Pinnick said. “But really, we only get two four-hour breaks, and usually people don’t take them because they’re always missing

She said she would have been fine without the two-hour nap, but with nine hours left, she felt much more refreshed.

“I have another nine hours left. I feel like ‘let’s go for another 12 hours. Let’s go for another 24.’ It’s not a big deal anymore,” Pinnick said.

A lot of what keeps participants going is the correlation between the mind and the body. Malmstrom said sleep deprivation is much more apparent while studying or driving — activities that employ the mind only.

IUDM, which requires the dancers to be on their feet all 36 hours, is a physical activity. Long after the mind shuts down, feet were still moving, which created a sort of distraction.

Freshman Zach Weiss heard about IUDM at orientation. He joined the marathon because his pledge class was participating.

“To be honest, 36 hours is a lot longer than I thought it would be going into it,” he said. “When it’s over, you’re exhausted and your feet really hurt, but seeing those final totals makes it worth it.”

Malmstrom said it’s easy to prepare by getting a good night’s sleep before the event. But sleep deprivation is much tougher to make up.

“You can make up for one or two hours, but you can’t necessarily make more than that up in one night,” Malmstrom said. “It’ll take four to five days.”

Two sleep cycles later, Weiss couldn’t agree more.

“I’m in recovery mode,” Weiss said. “Now I’m just getting caught up on homework.”

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