PHOTOGRAPHS #TCC2019 The Coastal Challenge
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It was a 0400 wakeup call this morning and an 0530 start. It may sound super early but believe me, the runners weren’t complaining! Most had been in bed before 8pm. The advantages of an early start are simple, it gives the runners a good 2-3 hours before the heat starts to take its toll.
Today’s stage was a tough 39km kicked off with a climb. Tom Evans, Hayden Hawks and Timothy Olson dictated the pace for the men, matching each other stride-for-stride. At the summit they could be heard talking actively, so, it’s fair to say they were easing into the day! For the ladies, Ragna Debats stamped her mark on the race by pushing immediately and opening a huge lead over the chasers.
The course rolled up and down with a series of hard, stony and dusty access roads that connected sections of rainforest. At 16km another high point was reached, just over 700m and then it was all pretty much downhill before reading the beaches of Dominical and a flat but hot run to the finish.
Debats was in a league of her own today, she pushed and pushed eventually crossing the line in 4:24:25. To put this in perspective, 2016 TCC winner Ester Alves, finished 2nd lady in 5:15:58, 3rd lady was Suzanna Guadarrama and Mirta Reaple and Josephine Adams were 4th and 5th.
Hawks and Evans pushed the pace for the men, finally pulling away from Olson. The duo ran side-by-side and although they tested each other, the duo crossed the line together in 3:41:52. Olson had a good day, relishing the more technical and hilly terrain to finish 3rd in 3:48:17 with Marcus Scotney and Michael Wardian placing 4th and 5th.
Tomorrow’s stage and 47.4km is a tough one that runs from Dominical Beach to Bahia Ballena.
Full stage results HERE
Overall classification HERE
Follow the action as the race unfolds #TCC2018
The 2018 The Coastal Challenge finally got underway today in San Jose, Costa Rica, as over 100 runners from all over the world came to packet pick up and registration for the 14th edition of the race.
As always, it was a mixture of nerves and excitement. The journey ahead, a stunning 6-days running along the coast of Costa Rica from Quepos to the iconic Drake Bay. Flanked on the right by the Pacific and to the left, the amazing Talamanca mountain range.
The 2018 edition of the race has all the makings of a classic. The men’s field is arguably the best ever with Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney and Timothy Olson.
The ladies’ race is equally impressive with past winner Ester Alves returning joined by Ragna Debats, Inge Nijkamp and Josephine Adams.
Full preview HERE
Tomorrow, Sunday 11th, runners depart for San Jose at 0400 for the 4-hour journey to the coast.
It’s a tough day as the race will start at 0900, the sun will already be high in the sky and the heat intense. It’s a day when patience can prevail.
Follow the action as the race unfolds #TCC2018
The 2018 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! Six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain, 9413m of vertical descent – TCC is more than a challenge!
Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2017 edition was won by Salomon International Athletes – Anna Frost and Tom Owens. For 2018, the race steps up a notch with arguably the greatest ever male field assembled for a multi-stage race.
The 2018 edition lists a who’s who of elite runners.
Michael Wardian, a past winner and yours record holder returns. The unstoppable Chema Martinez from Spain returns once again looking for that top spot. Rising GB star, Tom Evans heads for his first rainforest experience after planing 3rd at MDS in 2017. Add to this, the legendary and iconic Timothy Olson, Drgagons Back and Cape Wrath winner, Marcus Scotney and the USA’s rising star and fast-man, Hayden Hawks – needless to say, the rainforest of the Talamancas may be ablaze after these guys have forged a path through its stunning trails.
For the ladies’ Ester Alves returns, a past champion, Ester has just placed 2nd at the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. She will be joined by the Dutch mountain goat and fast lady, Ragna Debats. Our top three female contenders should have been rounded out by Elisabet Barnes but unfortunately, illness has taken its toll and she will not make the start in Quepos.
“Due to several occurrences of cold and flu in the last few months I have had to reevaluate my upcoming race schedule. I have raced nine demanding multi-stage races in the last two years and my body is telling me to back off a bit. I plan to come back stronger and one thing is guaranteed, I will be back at TCC2019 – It is a race I love!”
– Elisabet Barnes
Stage 1 34.6km 1018m of vert and 886m of descent
Stage 2 39.1km 1898m of vert and 1984m of descent
Stage 3 47.4km 1781m of vert and 1736m of descent
Stage 4 37.1km 2466m of vert and 2424m of descent
Stage 5 49.8km 1767m of vert and 1770m of descent
Stage 6 22.5km 613m of vert and 613m of descent
Hugging the coastline of the tropical Pacific, TCC is the ultimate multi-day experience that weaves in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of Central America.
The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulders, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long relentless beaches and finally finish in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay before departing for their journeys home via speedboat.
It’s a tough day! Runners depart San Jose early morning (around 0530) for a 3-hour drive to Playa Del Rey, Quepos. It’s the only day that the race starts late and ‘in the sun!’. It’s the toughest day of the race, not because the the terrain or distance, but because of the time of day! The runners are fresh and feel great. That is until about 10km and then they realise the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution – mark my words! The 34.6km is very runnable with little vertical and technicality – it welcomes the runners to Costa Rica.
From here on in, it is early breakfast. Around 0400 runners wake and the race starts with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.
It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to the sea and a final kick in the tail before the arrival at camp. For many, this is a key day and maybe one of the most spectacular. Pura Vida.
It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a rollercoaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rainforest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the road and the finish at 37.1km.
The long day but what a beauty! This route was tweaked a couple of years ago and now has become iconic with tough trails, plenty of climbing, sandy beaches and yes, even a boat trip. The finish at Drake Bay is iconic.
The victory lap! For many, this stage is the most beautiful and memorable. In just over 20km, the route manages to include a little of all that has gone before. It’s a stage of fun and challenges and one that concludes on the beach as a 2018 medal is placed over your head – job done!
Michael Wardian has won the race and set a course record. He knows the lay of the land and if anyone knows how to race hard, day-after-day, it is Mike. You can never bet against him and he always comes ‘to race!’ There is no sandbagging, no pretenses, just a full-on let’s race and let the best man win!
Hayden Hawks burst on the scene in recent years blazing a trail of fast running. He is one of the new breed of trail runner who is moving from the road/ track to the trails. That natural speed is making trail racing faster and faster. Hayden won CCC in 2017 – a huge win. He loves to train with big weeks and TCC will feel like a ‘training week’ but just a whole lot faster… he is a favourite for the win!
Timothy Olson needs no introduction. This man blasted Western States to a whole new level and was the man to beat at any race. A tough 2016 started to overturn in 2017 with a slow but calculated return to form. One of the nicest guys out there, Timothy will bring his love for all things to TCC and will inspire with his feet and his heart. On his day, this guy could rip the legs off the competition.
Tom Evans burst on the scene in 2017 placing 3rd at Marathon des Sables. He played the Moroccans at their own game and had them worried. Interestingly, Michael Wardian also placed 3rd some years ago… Tom placed 4th at the Eiger Ultra and CCC and recently has earned a slot on the GB Squad for the World Trail Championships in May. He is fast and can run technical trails, he has the multi-day format nailed – it is going to be awesome!
Marcus Scotney has represented GB and has won ‘The Challenger’ at the UK’s Spine race, won the Cape Wrath Ultra and most recently, The Dragons Back Race – both of which are gnarly UK multi-stage races. Marcus has all the skills for a great race at TCC, the biggest question may well come with heat adaptation from a cold UK?
Finally, Chema Martinez is slowly but surely become Mr. TCC. He has raced many times and played 2nd year-on-year. Will 2018 be the year when he tips the scales in his favour? Who knows, one thing is for sure, he will race hard every day.
Ester Alves has won the race before and last year placed 3rd. Recently, she placed 2nd at the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. Ester brings experience and excellent mountain/ technical running to TCC and as such, will always be a favourite for the win.
Ragna Debats in recent years has been a revelation mixing fast running (IAU World Trail Champs) with Skyrunning. On paper, Ragna is a hot favourite for victory in Costa Rica. The combination of speed and technical ability may well give her a supreme edge over the competition.
Inge Nijkamp placed 11th at Marathon des Sables and although she won’t appreciate me highlighting her name here, she will be one to watch. Her form, in her own words, “Is not what it should be,’ but, she has the ability and skill to certainly edge onto the podium should all go well.
Of course, we can not rule out the local talent who, over the years, has made the race exhilarating and exciting. We will update this report with a review of both the male and female talent once the race list has been confirmed.
Registration takes place on February 10th
Racing starts on the 11th
Daily reports, results and images on THIS website
Race website HERE
Four weeks today The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica will start. Celebrating ten glorious years, the 2014 edition of the race will arguably be the most competitive in the races history.
Kicking off the 2014 racing season, runners from all over the world will assemble in Quepos for an exhilarating journey along the Costa Rican coast and within the rain forests of this exciting and idilic land.
Unprecedented in the races history, an elite line up of runners will toe the line featuring:
The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.
Rodrigo Carazo and Tim Holmstrom from the TCC organisation have quite a race lined up!
In addition, Gemma Slaughter, 2013 female winner of the TCC will return to defend her title. Without doubt, Gemma will find the 2014 race very different to 2013. However, she does have experience and knowledge of what this race can bring; from a physical and mental perspective. I will be catching up with Gemma in the coming week for an interview on how she feels, how training has gone and what are her expectations for the 10th edition.
Frosty – ‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’
Wardian – ‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’
Clarky – ‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’
Reiter – ‘It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.’
Bottger – ‘I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting’
Meek – ‘I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run, admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.’
The stage is set!
I will be reporting live ‘daily’ from the race and posting each evening a synopsis of the action with images (connections allowing).
Follow on Facebook: HERE Twitter: @talkultra and of course on this website.
If you’d like to read more about The Coastal Challenge, here are my links to the 2013 (9th edition).
SUMMARY of the 2013 edition of the race – HERE
Images from the TCC – HERE
The Coastal Challenge on RUN247 – HERE
The Coastal Challenge on TrailRunner – HERE
The Coastal Challenge in Spanish TrailChile – HERE
Daily Blog posts from the 2013 edition of the race:
One of my images from the 2013 ‘The Coastal Challenge’
“Some races have mountains; some have dense forest; some have beach running; and some, like Costa Rica’s Coastal Challenge, have it all!”
The brainchild of Costa Rican architect and adventure racer, Rodrigo Carazo, the ninth edition of this epic race covered 236k over six days. Starting in Quepos on the coast, and travelling down the coastline of Costa Rica, moving in and out of rain forests and covering a total vertical gain of over 30,000 ft to finally arrive at the stunning Drake Bay.
Entries for 2014 are now available at: www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk
You can read the full article The Coastal Challenge at TrailRunner online HERE
Coronado to Palmar Sur 37.5km
It’s routine now… the camp comes alive at 0330 as runners rise to prepare for a day ahead. Breakfast has been on the go since 0200. The catering team really are troopers!
Last nights sleep was awesome. The sound of the ocean accompanied us throughout… waves making a watery nursery rhyme to help us all drift off. The soft splashing of waves was interrupted by the chatter of Monkeys! We had invaded their environment and they were letting us know.
At 0500 the runners departed by bus for a short transfer to the race start some 20 minutes away. Temperatures were much cooler today, for sure, it would mean the early running would be much more pleasureable.
I headed up the course to CP3 approximately 20km from the finish. My intention was to run in from here and capture images from strategic locations as the race unfolded. With my first spot found; I waited. The early morning mist that had engulfed us started to burn away as the sun started to heat the atmosphere.
Dave James appeared on the horizon and danced his way towards me and then past me “I had forgot how beautiful it is up here man” he shouted.
“Your looking good Dave”
“Yeah, I feel good, just trying to enjoy the day”
Over twenty minutes later, Ismael and Henry arrived. Dave was killing it once again… he really is head and shoulders above the completion here and that is saying something, Ismael is no slouch!
After a short section of single track; a tough, technical and twisty descent dropped to a stream and then a tough long climb waited. The heat started to beat down. It was tough.
At the top of this section it was then mostly wide fire trail. Like a roller coaster it went up and down. A beautiful vista on the left with rolling hills and green pastures. To the right, dense jungle and an assault of noise. Terrain is good underfoot, to all intents and purposes its easy running. A right turn and then a long tough and technical descent through dense jungle to the final few road kilometers that would lead to the finish line.
I waited at strategic points, captured images and slowly moved forward to my own finish line. It was a tough day. I wasn’t doing much running today but even so; it took some time for runners to come to me. By the time I reached the finish only 10 had arrived.
I was fortunate to see Gemma Slaughter (Canada) arrive at the finish. She had placed 2nd on day 1, 2nd on day 2 and gave away the lead on day 3 in the final km’s (due to fatigue) to finish 4th. She put the record straight today though. She had not only won the stage but with a combination of her having a ‘good day’ and the other ladies have a ‘less good’ day she had taken the overall lead by 25 minutes.
I caught up with Gemma on today’s win:
Tell me about your strategy for today. You had a tough day yesterday, after leading pretty much all day you relinquished the lead in the final 6km?
You had no more aspirations?
“I knew how much I struggled yesterday. I have no objectives, as I don’t know my potential. I thought I had to make the most of the day and see what happens”
So you lead from the front today, did you keep looking behind?
“I looked for the first 4km and then I was on the trail… I was shocked at how tough that climb was. It was scrambling, knees on chest; wow!”
So at the top of the climb you then hit the rolling terrain, it is like a series of dippers?
“I walked the climbs and probably ran 80% of the flats and shuffled the downs”
Was your body hurting?
“My quads felt like they were being stabbed by knives, it was so painful. I was with Bryce and Brent from Canada”
Did they help pace you?
“I ran the downs faster but they climbed quicker, it evened out”
From checkpoint 3 what happened?
“I pushed on after eating and drinking. I walk at first and then ease myself back into running.”
How was the final descent?
“I felt like Kilian… arms in the air bouncing from rocks. It’s like dot-to-dot. My feet join the dots. Its so mental concentrating on the terrain I thought I need to push it and maximize time”
And did you find that descent difficult?
“ For sure, I thought I may hurt myself but hey, that’s the race…”
So, the final stretch was a couple K of road. Did you have it sewn up?
“No, it’s like dangling a carrot. I had no idea how far the finish was. I also had no idea how far behind the next lady was. I kept my pace and pushed on to the finish. Kids came out and waved and smiled. I took that energy and used it”
So you got the stage win today but you are now in the overall lead by 25 min?
“It doesn’t feel real. I don’t know how I feel. My friends are sharing all this on Facebook. I am so shocked… it hasn’t sunk in. I am done now.”
So tomorrow, defend or attack?
“Attack, always attack”
Finally Gemma tells me about the special story that brings you to The Coastal Challenge?
“Graham Snowden. He put our team together. About 10 months ago he asked me if I wanted to take part and I said yes. I am really new to running. This is my first race…”
Tell me about the other reason?
“Two things. My team, Tam, Tony, Graham, Shawn, Pavel and Marissa. We all want to support each other and that motivates all of us. The other one is test my own physical ability”
The men’s race barring a disaster is over. Dave James has a convincing lead that will not be relinquished. However, with two days to go and tomorrows long stage, anything can happen for 2md and 3rd.
The ladies race is far more open. Gemma now has a strong lead but as stage 4 shows, it only takes one person to have a good day and another to have a bad day for things to change dramatically.
Images from stage 4 can be viewed HERE
Stage 5 is one of the most beautiful. The start can only be reached by boat so it’s an early start for everyone at the camp… I can’t help but think tomorrow’s blog my start with stories of fatigue and mosquitoes.
December 20th, 2012
Question – “Ian, are you free the first 10 days of February?”
Answer – “I leave Spain today and I am back in the UK late tonight. I have a busy morning on Saturday and I have some interviews to do Saturday afternoon but I will be free around midday to chat if you are? Alternatively drop me an email. Hope you are well? February should be okay, lets discuss.”
Reply – “Great, so you can go to Costa Rica for the multistage ‘Coastal Challenge'”
Answer – “Erm, yes! of course”
So, with just 4 weeks to prepare I was suddenly thrust into a week in the jungle. A whole new experience for me but one that I am so excited about! The Coastal Challenge.
I would normally be thinking to myself this is awesome. I get to go to Costa Rica, take part in a 6 day multistage, take photos, write an article and of course get some interviews. Unfortunately my long term knee injury is going to stop that… 225km over 6 days will just be too much and of course, I am not fit! Well, not race fit.
But as I said to my client and the RD, I think it is important to go these events and see it from both sides. If I am taking part, I wont see what is happening at the front of the race. I wont see ‘the race’ for the win. I also wont see the logistics and planning that go into a race like this. My trip is all about understanding every aspect of this race. So I am happy. I plan to dip in and dip out of stages but ultimately report on and bring back a whole series of images and stories that I can relate back to readers and listeners worldwide.
The first question I had was, can I die?
Heat Illness and Dehydration
Individuals who are not well conditioned traveling in hot, humid environments are susceptible to both heat illness and dehydration. Heat illness includes both very benign conditions such as heat rash as well as life threatening conditions including heat stroke. Participants should carry enough liquids to ensure hydration during the event. It is important to eat and drink appropriate amounts of liquids with electrolytes during the event to reduce the incidence of hyponatremia. Water has not been an issue in previous Coastal Challenge’s, however, this year portions of the race will be through agricultural areas that will require purification before drinking.
Plants and Animals
There are 135 species of snakes in Costa Rica with 17 being considered dangerous. Mostly these are members of the Viper, Coral and Boa families. The best prevention is watching your path and being aware.
While the water in Costa Rica is generally considered among the safest in Central America, traveler’s diarrhea does occur. It is advised that any water be treated prior to drinking unless its safety can be guaranteed. Speak to your Family Physician about treatment issues (Pepto Bismol, Antibiotics, etc.)
February is considered the dry season so expect warm temperatures with average highs of 20-25C/70-85C depending on altitude. Furthermore the race will be going through some of the driest areas of Costa Rica. Proper sunscreen is essential (SPF 15 or greater) with enough to last multiple daily applications for the entire race.
Okay okay, that sounds okay… the chances of survival are pretty good. So then, what is The Coastal Challenge?
The “Rainforest Run” promises to be spectacular and challenging. The course has been designed to emphasize point-to-point racing, which will put the “finish line” at or near camp at the end of each day’s race. The course is measured and will be marked. You will be given accurate course measurements and maps (Google Maps, Nat Geo maps) with route profiles for terrain, approximate distances and elevation gain or loss.
Set along Costa Rica’s tropical Pacific coastline and weaving into the Talamancas, a coastal mountain range in the southwest corner of Costa Rica. The race finishes near the border of Panama in a small and serene fishing village that until recently was only accessible by fishing boat.
Mountain, trail, rainforest, single track, across ridges, highlands and coastal ranges. We will run along beaches, rocky outcrops, reefs, river estuaries and the race finishes in the Corcovado National Park, one of the premier rainforest experiences in the world. A Unesco World Heritage site it defies description.
The course has a total elevation gain of more than 34,000 feet.
What is a Rainforest?
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750–2000 mm (68-78 inches). The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth‘s tropical rainforests.
Around 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests. It has been estimated that there may be many millions of species of plants, insects and microorganisms still undiscovered in tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests have been called the “jewels of the Earth” and the “world’s largest pharmacy“, because over one quarter of natural medicines have been discovered there. Rainforests are also responsible for 28% of the world’s oxygen turnover, sometimes misnamed oxygen production, processing it through photosynthesis from carbon dioxide and consuming it through respiration.
The undergrowth in a rainforest is restricted in many areas by the poor penetration of sunlight to ground level. This makes it easy to walk through undisturbed, mature rainforest. If the leaf canopy is destroyed or thinned, the ground beneath is soon colonized by a dense, tangled growth ofvines, shrubs and small trees, called a jungle. There are two types of rainforest, tropical rainforest and temperate rainforest.
The race is supported. This makes a big big difference. Although the race has a similar format to the Marathon des Sables, the big difference is that you do not need to carry your kit whilst running. This multistage is very much a race from the sense that the runners can race light and fast. The top runners will keep it minimal, hand bottles or a small pack. However, for most participants they will carry a pack with some ‘essentials’ and of course a bladder or bottles.
Base camp is set up by the race team. They transport the participants baggage to the finish of each day. Runners can sleep in a hammock or tent.They provide food (apparently excellent) and they also provide a series of check points and feed stations during the race.
After asking several questions, I was told by Rodrigo Carazo the following:
The Mica 1 tent will be excellent as I can pitch just the ‘inner’ allowing me to potentially remain a little cooler in the ridiculously hot and humid climate.
One’s to watch
FEET CARE by John Vonhof
Conditioning Your Feet
In the same way you train your legs and cardiovascular system, you need to condition your feet for the rigors 150 miles of The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. In short, that means training your feet in simulated race conditions. Train on somewhat similar terrain—sand, rocks, trails, hills, and in water. Knowing in advance how your feet will respond to these conditions will help you anticipate problems before they occur. Strengthening your ankles will help prevent sprained ankles common to uneven terrain and trails. Add in some walks or runs of longer amounts and vary your distance. The more miles you can get on your feet the stronger your feet will be.
When selecting shoes, make sure your toes have wiggle room and your heels are snug with little up and down movement. Shoes with mesh may be cooler but tend to allow trail debris and sand into the shoe. Don’t start the race with worn out shoes. Make sure the shoes fit well and have space for swollen feet and toes.
Athletes should wear moisture-wicking socks. Try a few types of socks and decide whether a single sock, a thin liner with an outer sock, or two socks are the best for your feet. Remember if wearing more than one pair, more space is required inside your shoes so be sure your shoes are sized big enough. Plan on several changes of socks. The Injinji toe socks place each toe into its own little sock and might be a good move if you are prone to toe blisters.
Gaiters keep sand, grit and gravel, and trail debris out of your shoes and socks. There are many commercially made gaiters available to purchase or make your own. Those with a breathable material are preferred. Styles which attach to the shoe’s upper are preferred over those with the strap under the shoe since they make it easier to change socks.
The most beneficial step you can take to prevent problems is to reduce your calluses. Treating blisters under calluses is difficult and sometimes impossible. Use a callus file after showering or use callus remover creams to soften the skin.
Untrimmed nails catch on socks putting pressure on the nail, causing blisters and black toenails, and cut into other toes. Toenails should be trimmed regularly, straight across the nail. Leave an extra bit of nail on the outside corner of the big toe to avoid an ingrown toenail. After trimming, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe and remove any rough edges. If you draw your finger from the skin in front of the toe up across the nail and can feel a rough edge, the nail can be filed smoother or trimmed a bit shorter.
If stopping to rest on the trail, take your shoes and socks off to air your feet, elevating them if possible. If near water, cool your feet with a quick soak. Use a silicone-based lubricant, like Hydropel or Sportslick which helps drive moisture away from your skin and reduces friction between your feet and shoes. Empty your socks of rocks and debris that can cause blisters, sores, abrasions, and cuts. If prone to blisters, consider taping your feet before problems develop.
Attend to hot spots when they develop to prevent them from turning into blisters. Cover these with tape to eliminate friction. Blisters should be drained and covered with Spenco 2nd Skin, Blister Block, or Compeed, and then tape. Your feet must be cleaned of all lubricant and oils for the patch to stick. If using a pin to drain the blister make several holes. If using a small scissors, make two small “V” cuts. Make the holes or cuts at a
point where foot pressure will expel any additional fluid build-up. Try to keep the skin on the roof of the blister. After applying a patch, roll your socks on and off to avoid disturbing the patch. Practice applying blister patches on areas of your feet most prone to problems.
Your Foot Care Kit
Wise competitors carry a small foot care kit in their packs. It doesn’t have to be big but it has to be right for your feet and small enough to fit in a Ziplock bag. I’d recommend a small container of Zeasorb powder or BodyGlide lubricant, alcohol wipes to clean oils off the skin before applying a blister patch, tincture of benzoin wipes, a small Ziplock bag with 1-inch Spenco 2nd Skin patches, a sewing needle and thread to drain blisters, and at least two yards of Leukotape wrapped around a small pencil. Duct tape can be substituted for Leukotape if you prefer. Of course it goes without saying that carrying a blister kit is useless if you don’t know how to use the materials. Use the time between now and the race to learn how to patch blisters and tape your feet before an event.
Foot Care at the End of the Day
After each day’s segment, proper care of your feet can help prepare you for the next day.
Using lightweight flip-flops around camp will allow your feet time to air and heal. If possible, soak your feet in cool water. Elevate your feet when resting. Rotate your socks to keep your feet as dry as possible and wash dirty socks. If your feet swell, you may have to remove your insoles. Use Super Salve, Bag Balm, Brave Soldier Antiseptic Healing Ointment, or a similar ointment to keep your feet as healthy as possible.
John Vonhof – Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes, 3rd edition, June 2004 www.footworkpub.com
Essential Medical Kit
The Coastal Challenge chose the spiral symbol because of its simple and transcendent beauty. Many of the most universally recognized meanings attached to the spiral seem relevant to the adventure in which you are about the take part. To many cultures the circular motif signifies centeredness, tranquility and balance.
Also a basic element in Western ideography, the clockwise spiral is strongly associated with water, power, life, the earth or sun, time, a journey, independent movement, and migrations of tribes, all things that will most definitely shape your life over The Coastal Challenge
Visit the race website HERE
I will be updating my blog daily with a report and photos. Also check the Talk Ultra Facebook page and Twitter feed for any updates as they happen…..
Providing I can get a signal in the rainforest.