High Quality Feet Pre-Taping

August 1, 2013 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footcare 

Over my years of taping feet, I have seen techniques improve to where pre-taping is more helpful then ever before.

Often times, in the middle of a race, one cannot take the time necessary to do a high-quality tape job. Things may be rushed. The runner may be in a huge hurry to make a cut-off. The feet and skin may be wet. Conditions may be less than ideal – lightening, set-up, workable access/angle to the feet, supplies, etc.

Bad Tape Job

Bad Tape Job

However, before a race, a hike, or run, there is more time to do a high quality pre-tape job. It’s also the time to practice your skills and learn how to do a really good tape job. The first photo here shows a pretty poor tape job on toes. In this photo, the tape will probably peel off from sock changes and general wear. If any one of the pieces comes off, the now untapped toe will be subject to the roughness of the tape on the neighboring toe. It looks like Leukotape, which sticks well, but does not conform to the curves of toes and other places on the foot. It is possible to do a great tape job on toes with Leukotape – but it take time and practice. I must admit I like Leukotape for certain conditions and tape jobs.

Bogies taped right foot after 157 miles

Bogies taped right foot after 157 miles


A good, high-quality pre-tape job should hold up well, for several days if necessary, and cared for. In this next photo, you can see the right foot of Bogie Dumitrescu after finishing a solo, self-supported crossing of Death Valley followed by up and down to Mt Whitney. You can see how the tape has held for 157 miles in the extremes of Death Valley. It’s hot on the valley floor, but there are two long uphill’s climbs followed by long downhill’s over two passes. An 11-mile trail hike follows that up to and another 11 back down Whitney. The tape job held for 157 miles! In fact it looks perfect.

The tape is Kenesio-Tex on the heels, balls of the feet and big toes. Hypafix tape is used in a figure eight cut to anchor the tape at the forward edge of the ball of the foot, between the toes, and anchored again on top of the foot. This prevents the forward edge of the tape from rolling.

Bogie's feet after 157 miles!

Bogie’s feet after 157 miles!

The next photo shows Bogie’s two feet after the tape was removed. No blisters. One of the reasons the tape held is that Bogie managed his feet well. He kept them as dry as possible. This is important in Death Valley where often Badwater runners get their feet wet when they are sprayed or doused with water in an effort to cool them.

Bogie was fortunate to have his feet taped by Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen. Denise is a master at taping feet and does a precision tape job. This is not a 30-minute tape job. It takes as long as it takes to do it right. Denise and I tape almost identically. If we apply a piece of tape and it looks or feels wrong, we remove it and retape. Our aim is to get the runners on the course and able to finish with good feet.

Danny's Feet Taped Before Badwater

Danny’s Feet Taped Before Badwater

The point of this blog post is to show a good tape job that can hold up over multiple days. The final photo shows Danny Westergaard’s feet that Denise taped for Badwater three weeks ago. Danny’s feet are taped perfectly. You can see the small strip of Hypafix that Denise wrapped around Danny’s big toes to further secure the tape edges.

I commend Bogie and Danny for their runs. Bogie completed his solo self-supported Badwater crossing the week before the official Badwater ultramarathon. Danny completed his 7th Badwater, went to the summit of Whitney and then reversed direction and went back to the start for his 7th Badwater Double.

And I commend Denise Jones for her care of runner’s feet.  She’s a class act. Thanks Denise.

Kinesio, Leukotape and Hypafix tapes, as well as Compound Tincture of Benzoin and other foot care supplies are available at Zombierunner.com.

Disclosure: When you purchase through this link, I make an affiliate small amount of each sale.

Follow Badwater starting Monday 7/16

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Sports, Travel 

Next week is Badwater. I’ll be there along with Denise Jones, patching feet. I’ve captured the press released from Chris because if utilizes the best of social media and the web to keep followers in touch with the race. After the race, I’ll post pictures. Promise. Here’s the story and links.




AdventureCORPS, Inc., an event production firm specializing in ultra-endurance and extreme sports events, will host the 35th Anniversary Badwater Ultramarathon on July 16-18, 2012. Recognized globally as “the world’s toughest foot race,” this legendary event pits approximately 95 of the world’s toughest athletes – runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers – against one another and the elements. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c), it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.

The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280′ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Mt. Whitney Portal at 8360′ (2533m). The Badwater course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 13,000′ (3962m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700′ (1433m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places and landmarks including Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Keeler, and Lone Pine.

A true “challenge of the champions,” the 2012 AdventureCORPS Badwater Ultramarathon features 49 Badwater veterans and 49 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability, as well a athletes who have the necessary running credentials, but are primarily known for their exploits as adventure racers, mountaineers, triathletes, or in other extreme pursuits. They represent twenty countries by citizenship or residence: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Canada, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and United States of America (and nineteen America states).

There are 18 women and 80 men. The youngest runner is 23 (rookie entrant Claire Heid of Tacoma, WA) while the oldest is 70 (Arthur Webb of Santa Rosa, CA, a thirteen-time finisher), with an average age of 45. Full details are available on the race roster.

The men’s course record is held by Valmir Nunez of Brazil with a time of 22:51:29 set in 2007, while the women’s course record of 26:16:12 was set in 2010 by Jamie Donaldson of Littleton, CO. It is expected that the winner of the 2012 AdventureCORPS Badwater Ultramarathon will finish in 22 to 26 hours. The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours, as compared to the 60 hour limited used in the races held through 2010. For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater belt buckle. There is no prize money.

The 2012 race field is particularly competitive. Veteran contenders include 2011 men’s champion Oswaldo Lopez, 40, of Madera, CA (also place 2nd in both 2009 and 2010; Mexico citizenship), 2010 men’s champion Zack Gingerich, 32, of Tigard, OR, 2009 men’s champion Marcos Farinazzo, 44, of Brazil and 2004 men’s champion Dean Karnazes, 49, or Ross, California. Also competing is Marshall Ulrich, 61, of Idaho Springs, CO, the 17-time finisher who placed first in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996.

The women’s field, with 18 entrants, includes 11 rookies and 7 veterans. Veteran contenders include the 2011 women’s champion, Sumie Inagaki, 46, of Aichi, Japan and Pam Reed, 51, of Jackson, WY, the 2002 and 2003 overall champion who also won the women’s field in 2005. Every year is a new year at the Badwater Ultramarathon, with rookies and “previously unknown” athletes surprising the contenders with top performances. New stars will shine as the race unfolds in July.

RACE MAGAZINE Download the 2012 edition (44 pages; 3.4MB).

RACE WEBCAST Follow the race live via the webcast.

Follow the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon via Twitter. We will post race updates and observations, photo links, and important news and announcements. NOTE: Please use hashtag #bw135 to join the Twitter conversation! Here’s the current conversation stream.

Official race photos by the Badwater Race Staff will post to Flickr July 15-18. Race Director Chris Kostman’s race photos will post to Flickr July 15-18 in his photostream.

Badwater Race Director Chris Kostman will be posting photos “live” (whenever a cellular connection is available, which is in Furnace Creek and then the latter 1/3 of the course and the finish line) via his Instagram account. Follow his photo stream on your iPhone or Android with the Instagram app and his stream at “chriskostman.” Photos also automatically post to Chris’ Instagram stream for viewing online.

We will be posting videos from the race on the AdventureCORPS YouTube channel. Most videos will appear on Tuesday and Wednesday, where the internet connection is far superior to that in Death Valley.

A Major Accomplishment on Two Feet

August 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Health 

Some of you may have followed the recent saga of Lisa Bliss’ solo, self-supported Badwater Solo crossing of Death Valley on the Badwater Ultramarathon course. Lisa is one of the strongest women runners I have met. – and this solo adventure proves it.

Lisa started at Badwater, the lowest point in the United States at -282 feet, and covered the 135 miles to the Mt. Whitney portal in just over 75 hours. Then she made the climb up to the summit of Mt. Whitney at 14,494 feet, the highest point in the lower 48 states, about another 11 miles. All without any support from another person – no extra food or water, no help of any sort.

Lisa's taped feet

Lisa's taped feet

Lisa has two great, well-conditioned feet. This picture shows the tape job done by Denise Jones before her start. That’s it. A single strip of Kinesio Tex tape across the ball of the foot, with a piece of Hypafix tape cut in a figure 8, holding the leading edge down. Denise is fantastic at taping, being very careful to avoid creases or folds in the tape, and making sure all edges are secure.

The second picture is of Lisa pushing her 240 pound cart through Death Valley. The cart carries all her water, food, clothes, and other essentials.

Lisa pushing the cart through Death Valley

Lisa pushing the cart through Death Valley

The third picture is of Lisa on the way of the Portal Road. This is probably around mile  132.

Lisa on the Portal Road

Lisa on the Portal Road

The fourth picture is taken very near the “official” finish line of the Badwater race, the Whitney Portal at 8371 feet. At this point, the road part is done. This is where most of the Badwater runners stop. But the official solo rules include summiting Mt. Whitney. So the cart is stowed and the hike to the summit starts.

Lisa reached the summit and became only the second person to have completed a solo, self-supported run on the Badwater course. Lest you think Death Valley is flat, you might be surprised to find out there is a long 15-mile uphill from Stovepipe Wells at 0 feet to the top of Townes Pass at 4956 feet. Then you descend to Panamint Springs at 1980 feet, before starting the climb to Father Crowley Point at 4000 feet and then over Panamint Pass at 5300 feet, and then the rolling road into Lone Pine. That takes you to about mile 122 at the 3700 foot Lone Point. Then as said earlier, the Portal is mile 135 at 8371 feet. Mt Whitney’s summit is another 11 miles to it 14,494 summit. Remember that after completing the solo, and reaching the hut at the summit on Mt. Whitney, she had to turn around and go down the mountain back to the Whitney Portal. They came down the mountain in a storm.

Lisa wrote me a note after she returned home and shared how her feet held up. Here’s what she said:

“I had NO trouble with blisters even with all that toe-off on the uphills.  I had just a tiny blister on the end of my second toe, noticed in Lone Pine when I was changing socks for the first time.  I snipped it and filled with it with benzoin. No more trouble even with soaked shoes for 7 hours coming back down the mountain in the rain.  My feet were pruny, but no blisters.  They recovered just fine.

I’d say I was lucky, but I really think it was more due to the pre-run foot care with me filing callouses and toenails, Denise’s pre-tape for balls of feet, the Engo pads, and the very, very thin layer of Hydropel I always use between my toes.”

I commend Lisa for a fantastic accomplishment. It was fun for us, watching from the comfort of our homes and offices, to hear updates on Facebook the the ultra forum. Lisa is a good friend and a great runner.

The first and only other solo, self-supported Badwater Solo crossing was done by Marshall Ulrich in 1999. Here’s a link to Marshall’s webpage to read his account. Marshall and Lisa are special people.

Give Away #1: One Best Hike: Mt. Whitney

December 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 

Here is my first give away of a Wilderness Press book – to get you and your feet into new adventures.

For your chance to win this book, there are two steps: by end of day January 1st,  1) Send me an email with your best 50-word reason why I should pick you, and 2) include the names of three people to whom you are sending an email encouraging them to subscribe to my Fixing Your Feet blog. Remember to keep it to 50 words only. No more.

I have included a link to the Wilderness Press and Amazon web pages for the book in case you don’t win the book. Check it out at either site.

About the book: One Best Hike: Mt. Whitney

One Best Hike: Mt. WhitneyThe most iconic 14er in the country, California’s Mt. Whitney positively radiates in the Sierra Nevada. For many, the hike up Whitney is a once-in-a-lifetime tick on their outdoor activity list.

The most popular route to the summit is the 22-mile round-trip Mt. Whitney Trail. Although the hike is non-technical, would-be hikers need to be prepared for the altitude, long distance, elevation gain, mountain weather, and other potential dangers.

Author and seasoned Sierra hiker Elizabeth Wenk provides the authoritative, step-by-step guide to planning and completing this superb hike with safety advice, insider information, detail, and reassurance found nowhere else.

Author: Elizabeth Wenk

Value: $12.95

Pages: 137

Pub Date: 2008

About the Author: Elizabeth Wenk

From childhood, Lizzy Wenk has hiked and climbed in the Sierra Nevada with her family. After she started college, she found excuses to spend every summer in the Sierra, with its beguiling landscape, abundant flowers, and near-perfect weather. During those summers, she worked as a research assistant for others and completed her own Ph.D. thesis research on the effects of rock type on alpine plant distribution and physiology. But much of the time, she hikes simply for leisure. Wanting to explore every bit of the Sierra, she has hiked thousands of on- and off-trail miles and climbed nearly 500 peaks in the mountain range.

Lighten Your Footwear for Better Hiking

September 2, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Sports 

Two weeks ago at the Outdoor Retailers Show I met Ryan Jordan of BackpackingLight and picked up a copy of the new book he edited, Lightweight Backpacking & Camping: A Field Guide to Wilderness Hiking Equipment, Technique, and Style. Ryan and his team are the gurus of lightening your load. Their website BackpackingLight.com has a wealth of information, gear reviews, and tips on this fast growing sport. People are discovering going lightweight can make for a better outdoor experience.
     The book offers new insight into gear selection and techniques that can be used to reduce pack weight and decrease the margin of risk that occurs by taking less weight in the backcountry. If you are a hiker, camper, fastpacker, adventure racer, or just love the outdoors, this is a must have book. What does this have to do with feet? Well, reducing the weight you carry on your shoulders will help save your feet. You can wear lighter shoes instead of heavier boots.
     Quoting from Ryan, “Chapter 1 begins appropriately with the category of equipment that is arguably more important that any piece of gear or apparel a lightweight backpacker will use: footwear. Lee Van Horn’s treatise on footwear includes a comprehensive discussion of lightweight backpacking shoes. Simply put, shoes have such a profound impact on the lightweight backpacking experience because (1) the type of footwear you are able to wear depends in large part on the weight of the pack, and (2) the type of footwear you choose governs the transfer of energy and shock to the rest of your lower torso and spinal joints. Since this book’s manuscript was finalized, I’ve been diving into research about ultralight footwear, and experimenting with shoes lighter than anything the market has previously seen. I’ve been strengthening my feet, hiking in shoes with less support that are more akin to slippers than hiking shoes, and have been making some dramatic discoveries. In particular, that with proper conditioning, the natural features of the feet (as long as the arch is supported and the heel pad retains its shape for shock absorption) are ideally suited for transferring energy to the rest of your body, and I’m finding that I can walk longer distances in less supportive footwear – with a light pack – than I’ve ever been able to do before.”
     Our feet need varying degrees of support. Whether you wear a fannypack, carry a lightweight pack with 10 pounds or a 35-pound pack, the correct footwear is important. If your ankles are weak, you’ll benefit from a higher shoe. A good insole will provide support and cushioning, reducing the jarring of your feet. Good outersole tread will provide traction on rocks and on wet trails. Good spacing in the toebox will save your toenails. You can find all these things in a lightweight shoe. Reducing your pack and gear weight will allow you the option of lightweight shoes. Do not make the mistake of choosing lightweight shoes without also considering the weight of your gear and pack. A heavy pack and lightweight shoes can hurt your feet and lead to an uncomfortable outing.
     We still have months of good weather ahead of us. I just booked a trail permit for a three-day fastpack in the Mt. Whitney backcountry in early October. I will use many of the techniques in the book to lighten my load—and keep my feet healthy. If you are a lover of the outdoors, I’d encourage you to check out Lightweight Backpacking & Camping. Now, if only I could figure how to lighten the required bear canister!

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