Feet at Primal Quest

September 6, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Sports 

The 2015 Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race concluded a few days ago, after nine days of challenges to the 11 four person teams. This was an unsupported race, meaning there was no crew support. Race organizers, medical staff, and general volunteers all worked together to provide levels of support that were awe-inspiring. People worked together to help the racers get through over 400 miles of a variety of disciplines: trekking, orienteering, white water kayaking and rafting, mountain biking (sometimes referred to as hike-a-bike), ascending and rappelling, sleep deprivation, extreme heat and more. Through all this I am fairly certain that everyone had fun.

At the eight TAs (transitions areas), where racers changed from one discipline to another, were a number of volunteers. Medical staff included doctors, podiatrists, nurses, paramedics, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and more. Our job was to care for whatever medical needs the racers had, including anything and everything. Even though the teams carried mandatory medical gear, most relied on the medical staff for their advanced foot care skills and materials. Khristy Gavigan, an RN and the medical volunteer coordinator, had done an amazing job of assembling extensive medical kits for each TA.

I worked two TAs – TA3 and TA6. At each TA, we set up and area where the teams checked in, arranged their gear so they could get to their gear and bike boxes, and decided on an area for medical and foot care. Generally we went through all the medical bags to see what supplies we had.

Checking Katie's feet

Checking Katie’s feet

Because the four person teams were seen at each TA, there was a lot of foot care required. Many times we worked on all four team members in assembly line fashion. There was a mix of problems, but it seemed we saw more toe blisters and toenail care required than usual. Many toes had the skin torn off the top of blisters. While there was a lot of heel blisters, there didn’t seem to be many ball-of-the-foot blisters. Treatment was with kinesiology RockTape and in some instances, Leukotape.

Teams might receive some foot care at one TA, and the next, and the next, and so on. That’s the nature of an adventure race with multiple disciplines.

Some of the teams were short coursed – meaning they bypassed one or more discipline due to overall time cutoffs. This reduced the number of racers with maceration from one of the kayak sections, and reduced more foot issues from the following 50-mile trek. All in all, I think feet were pretty much what I expected. The majority of teams were prepared with supplies to repair their feet, which is always nice to see.

Foot Care Preparation for Primal Quest – or Your Next Event

The seven tips below are written for the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race starting next week. They are also applicable to any race you may have coming up.

Primal Quest is less than two weeks away and here are seven things you can do to improve your chances of finishing with healthy feet.

1.    Wear the best fitting shoes you can. Have a bit of space in front of your longest toe and enough height in the shoe’s toe box to avoid squishing the toes from the top.

2.    Bad toenail care can result in toe blisters and black toenails, where fluid or blood is under the nail. Trim your toenails short and then use a nail file to smooth the tip of the nail. File the nails from the top over the edge down toward the tip of the toe. The goal of the trimming and filing is to remove any rough or sharp edges. File the nails so when you run your fingertip up and over the tip of the toe no rough edges are felt. It’s even better to file the nail so that no tip of the nail is felt. If you have thick nails, file the top of the nail down to reduce its thickness.

3.    Any time you can, remove your shoes and socks to dry and air your feet. Your feet will be wet from water disciplines, stream crossings, cooling yourself off by pouring water over yourself, and simply sweaty feet. When stopping to eat or rest, remove your shoes and socks. Lay your socks in the sun to dry and switch to a clean dry pair if possible. Issues caused by wet feet will multiply over time and can end your race or at the least, result in extremely painful feet.

4.    Do everything in your power to prevent and reduce maceration. This means not letting water poured over your head get into your shoes by bending over before dousing yourself. If means following the tips outlined in # 2 above.  Use a moisture-controlling agent to help prevent the skin on the bottoms of your feet from macerating. Several include Desitin Maximum Strength Original Paste (available at drug stores, Walmart, etc), zinc oxide, Chafe X, SportsSlick, Trail Toes, and RunGoo. Apply liberally and before all water segments to help prevent damage to your skin. Once serious maceration happens, only drying your feet and letting them air, with the help of powder and warmth, will reverse the condition. If left unchecked, the skin can fold over on itself, split open, and tear layers of skin off the bottom of your feet.

5.    Use gaiters to prevent pebbles and rocks, trail dust, and other debris from getting inside your shoes and socks. These become irritants and can lead to hot spots and blisters.

6.    Take care of small issues before they become larger problems. Lance and drain small blisters whenever you feel them to keep them from becoming larger. Put a dab of ointment over the blister and then apply a strip of tape over the top to protect the skin.

7.    Finally, make sure you have the supplies to treat your feet out on the course. Waiting to get to a TA to repair a blister can make a small problem much larger.

Merry Christmas from Fixing Your Feet

December 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 
Fixing Your Feet

Fixing Your Feet

Feet are a big part of my life. For the past 15 years, Fixing Your Feet has introduced me to great people. I have enjoyed helping runners at events like Western States; Badwater in Death Valley; Primal Quest in Colorado, California and Washington; Raid the North Extreme in BC Canada; the TransRockies in Colorado; Racing the Planet Atacama in Chile; the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica; the Avon Walk; the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk; and others. In all these events, I have worked on thousands of feet. In addition, I have responded to an uncounted number of emails from folks asking for foot care advice.

The best part has been the people I have met. Runners, hikers, adventure racers, walkers, and their crews. Athletes walking a fine line between making a cutoff in a race, front runners, back of the pack runners, short and long distance hikers, solo and in groups – all ages. Athletes with a simple blister and others with blisters all over. Athletes in pain, and those wanting to quit.

I can recall many of these people. I remember their stories. Some of you are in my stories. I have learned a lot from each person whose feet I have patched. I don’t pretend to know everything about feet. Together we have learned a lot. I thank each of you for what you have contributed to the Fixing Your Feet story.

I wish all my readers a fun, bright, delicious, warm and cozy, and loving Merry Christmas. I hope you can spend time with family and friends.

 

About

January 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under:  

John Vonhof brings a varied background and extensive experience to FixingYourFeet.com. This website and blogt is the synthesis of over 18 years of experience as a runner and hiker.

Over the years he has provided volunteer medical aid at numerous running events and has patched thousands of feet at events like the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, the Raid the North Extreme Adventure Race in northern BC Canada, Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Races, the TransRockies, the Gold Rush Adventure Races, the 4 Deserts Atacama race in Chile, the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, the Avon Walk, and more.

This background has provided a wealth of learning opportunities for what can go wrong with feet and ways to fix them.

Having run since 1982, John discovered the challenging world of trail running and ultras in 1984. Over the years, he has completed more than 20 ultras: 50KMs, 50-milers, 100-milers, 24-hour runs, and a 72-hour run. John has completed the difficult Western States 100  Mile Endurance Run three times and the Santa Rosa 24-Hour Track Run ten times.

In 1987 John, with fellow runner Will Uher, fastpacked the 211-mile John Muir Trail in the California High Sierra’s in 8.5 days with 30 pound packs.

As the former race director of the Ohlone Wilderness 50 KM Trail Run (15 years), John worked at providing a quality event for runners of all skill levels. This run is known as one of the most difficult 50 KM trail ultras in Northern California.

An opportunity to change careers in 1992 led him into the medical field where he has worked as an emergency room technician with certifications as a paramedic and orthopaedic technician. He currently works for the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services Agency in the San Francisco Bay Area in Central California.

My Fixing Your Feet Ezine – a story about feet at PQ

October 31, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Many of you readers of this Happy Feet blog might be interested in the other newsletter I publish. It’s 101_330_1called the Fixing Your Feet E-zine and it covers foot care skill, tips, techniques, and products. I usually publish it once a month because it is longer in length and usually contains many different parts.
     The latest issue of the Fixing Your Feet Ezine was just released and can be found by clicking on the links here. It contains a most interesting read of an adventurer racer’s experience at this summer’s Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race. It is a great example of what can happen, even after careful planning. The great part is that it also includes reflections after the race about what went wrong. I encourage you to check it out. If you like the ezine, there is a subscribe button at the top of the page.

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