Several years ago I met Gregg at Badwater in Death Valley. We were in line to check in at Furnace Creek and I heard the last name. It was the same as an aunt of mine. Turns out we are related.
At Badwater he ran well and finished near the top. Later that year, he and his wife moved to Asia and I had not heard from him – until the other day. He sent an email about running the Spartathlon in Greece. It’s a 246-kilometer (153 mile) race between Athens and Sparta. The Spartathlon aims to trace the footsteps of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. Here’s his email:
I just finished running Spartathlon. It was nearly as hot as Badwater (100.4), ok maybe not as hot as Badwater, but it was far to hot for this race, considering it is normally 86. The race by the way is fantastic; I would highly recommend that you make a trip out there if you get the chance.
So, I took a photo of my feet after the race and thought you might like the photo, being that you are the foot guy. Might make for a good example. The blister appeared to start from underneath the pad of my foot by my big toe. The pressure built up so much that it formed the blister on top of my foot as well – as you can see from the photo. Pretty cool if you ask me. I probably ran with it for 50 miles, since I didn’t change my shoes and didn’t feel like taking them off. They lanced it when I finished… as I was receiving two bags of IV fluid. Haven’t had any problems with it since, although it has taken a few days for the pressure under my foot to slowly recede.
As you can see in the photo, there is blood in the blister. Here’s where you have to be careful and take precautions to prevent infection. I don’t encourage people to lance these on their own, but in aid stations with the right equipment and knowledge, it can be done. When I do it, I always give the athlete the warning signs of infection: redness, warm to the touch, pain, fever, pus, and swelling. If you have a blood blister, be careful.
Really though, Gregg’s feet look pretty good for just having run 153 miles. Don’t you agree?
When Geoff Baker sent me a few photos of feet, which he took at this year’s Barkley, I found two jewels. The composition of Brett Maune’s feet in the two photos after winning the race is great.
The first photo shows Brett removing tape from his feet. The condition of his feet and legs is rough. Note the light skin on the heel where he’s removing tape. Another light strip of skin is shown on the bottom of the big toe. A strip of tape is still evident on the inside of the right foot.
The second photo is a great example that Brett knows his feet well. All the light spots on the bottom and sides of the feet are places where he applied Leukotape. He knew where his feet were vulnerable and he applied just enough tape to protect the skin and tissue in those areas. From all appearances, it worked.
Years ago, a good friend and renown ultrarunner, Dick Collins, told me to never put anything on or around your feet that was un-necessary. His theory, that I support, is that anything that adds bulk can be bad.
That’s why I frown on using moleskin, gauze and soft foam with cutouts over blisters. They all add bulk. When the runner takes off after the patching, his feet feel tight in his shoes because of the added “stuff” in the shoe. This often adds even more pressure on the blistered area, making it more uncomfortable that before. This can easily change the runners gait and this affect continues up the leg to the knee, the hip and the spine.
I commend Brett for winning the Barkley and for knowing how to care for his feet. We can learn from Brett. In short, pre-tape where you need it.
To view a photo montage of images from Barkley, check out The Barkley: Bad Things Happen.
Here is Geoff’s contact information: Geoffrey Baker Photography.