10 Top Tips for Multistage and Multi-Day Racing


Running is running yes? Anyone can do it! Well I guess the answer is yes. However, variables come in to play. Running is broken down into many different distances, from 100m to 100-miles and beyond. The longer we run, the more the challenges and requirements on a runner change. Running for multiple days or running a multistage race on mixed terrain throws up many different scenarios. Over the years I have spoken with many champions who have raced in the sands of the Sahara, the forests of Costa Rica and the mountainous paths of Nepal. They all provide me with similar hints ’n’ tips to a successful multistage race.

Here is a top 10.



Desert races are very popular. Marathon des Sables for example is the father of multistage racing and over the years, many races have followed in the MDS format. A desert race is never all dunes but some races have more soft sand than others, so, be prepared. To avoid getting tired it’s important to read the terrain. Carve your own path running on fresh sand and when possible, run along the ridges. In smaller dunes (dunettes) it can be beneficial to run in tracks left by others, at all times, run light as though running on ice – you don’t want to sink in the sand!



Dehydration is a real risk in any race, particularly a self-sufficient race where water is rationed. The risks of dehydration increase when the mercury rises and a lack of cover comes. A desert for example will be open, have intense heat but humidity will be low. By contrast, a jungle such as those found in Costa Rica may well have plenty of tree cover and streams to cool off in but the humidity will be through the roof. In both scenarios it’s important to drink regularly. Take small and regular sips of water and supplement lost salt with salt tablets. Races like Marathon des Sables provide salt tablets at aid stations and they recommend dosage. Other races you will need to think of this and plan accordingly. Also think about food choices on the trail and when in camp – food rich in minerals and salts will also help you. Importantly, multistage racing is about management from day-to-day and this is what can trip people up. Think about the event as a whole and make sure you recover after each day – rehydrating is as important post a run as when running.



Many a multistage race is ruined by bad personal management of feet. Think about this well in advance of the race by choosing socks and shoes that work for you. Also choose shoes appropriate for the terrain you will be racing on. A shoe for MDS will be very different to a shoe for the Himalayas for example. By all means take advice on shoes from previous competitors BUT you are unique and your needs are unique. Do you pronate? Do you supinate? Do you need a low or high drop? Do you prefer a cushioned shoe or a more minimalist shoe? What about grip, do you need any? Do you need to fit gaiters? The questions can go on and on and only you can make a choice. If all this is new to you. Go to a running store that understand runners and can provide expert and impartial advice. They will assess you and your run style and provide advice. One consideration for multistage racing is that your foot ‘can’ possibly swell due to variables such as heat, running day-after-day and so on. Your foot will not go longer, but it may go wider. So, think about shoes that have some room in the toe box. Don’t purchase shoes that are 1 or 2 sizes larger – this is poor advice. Larger shoes will only allow your foot to move… a moving foot causes friction, friction increases the risk of soreness and soreness will lead to a blister. Also think about walking. Many people choose a shoe because they are good to run in… But how do they feel when you walk? Remember, a multistage race can involve a great deal of walking!

Do you have sensitive feet? If so, you can prepare your feet in the run-up to an event by hardening them with special products. Also make sure your nails are trimmed back. While racing, if you have blisters, stop and get them treated as soon as possible. Take responsibility and learn basic footsore before an event. You need to make sure you can make any necessary treatments. Finally, many races have a medical team that are provided to look after you and your feet. Don’t hesitate to use them, but remember, there may be a big line waiting. Self-care is an excellent way to make sure that you are ready to run in your own timeline.



Not all multistage races are the same. The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, for example, is not self-sufficient so a runner only needs to carry liquid, snack food and any ‘mandatory’ kit. By contrast, a self-sufficient multistage race requires you to carry everything. A simple rule is keep everything as light as possible and keep your pack balanced. Luxuries really are luxuries in a race over multiple days so really ask yourself, do I need to take that? You will need mandatory kit as specified by the race and in addition you will need (as a guide):

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping matt
  • Warm layer
  • Spare socks
  • Food (minimum calories are specified per day)

Clothes, shoes, hat, sunglasses –  but you will be wearing these so they don’t go in the pack.

That’s it. Keep it simple and if at all possible, get your pack with its contents as close the minimum weight as specified by the race.

By general consensus, a luxury item is considered a music player (or 2) such as an iPod shuffle.

Also remember that minimum pack weight will be without water, so, if your pack weighs 6.5kg, you will have to add 1.5kg on the start line on day 1. This is where a front pack or a pack where bottles sit on the front works really well. Bottles on the front help balance the front and the back and provide a greater running experience. Also, think about items your need whilst running… it’s not a good idea having them in the back, they need to be at the front so you can access them ‘on-the-go!’

Many packs are available to choose from and you will see two or three are very popular – WAA, Ultimate Direction and Raidlight. Choosing a pack is light choosing shoes; we are all personal. However, keep a pack simple, make sure it’s comfortable and make sure it has little or no bounce when running/ walking.

Consider joining a multistage/ multi-day training camp in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes – winner of the 2015 Marathon des Sables, Oman Desert Marathon and 2016 Big Red Run and podium places at the 2016 The Coastal Challenge, Richtersveld Wildrun and Grand to Grand. Information and dates on our next raining camp HERE



The sun can be a killer in any race, single stage or multistage – use sun protection and apply it daily. Also use products like arm coolers, a hat and a buff. At aid stations or whilst racing, you can keep these wet which will help cool you. Particularly the buff. If you overheat, slow down and apply cold/ water to the back of the neck. Use UV protective clothing and the jury is out on if clothing should be tight or loose. This often comes down to personal preference.



Any multistage race is quickly broken down into three phases – running, eating and sleeping. Food is a really important part of any race as it has to perform many functions. Most importantly, it has to sustain you so you will need carbohydrate, protein and fat. Individual requirements will vary but carbs will restore energy, protein will repair and fat is essential as this is one of the primary fuel sources for a multistage race. Remember though, our bodies have an unlimited reserve of fat. It’s important to understand that your diet whilst training may well be very different to when racing. In training you may well have eaten less carbs to teach your body to use fat, but when racing, you need to recover and be ready to run/race again the next day. Have variety in your food as your palette will change with fatigue, dehydration and heat. Real foods are good but dehydrated food also has a place. You also need to decide if you will require a stove for heating water? Don’t think twice about stepping up a little on the organization’s requisite minimum daily dose of 2,000 calories a day, remember though, it’s all weight!


7 – REST

Rest is crucial and how much you get will depend on how fast you run. Front runners have no shortage of rest time, however, those at the back of the race get minimal rest. Make sure you have a good sleeping bag that is warm enough for you and is as light and packs small as possible. You can save weight by not carrying a sleeping matt – general consensus says that carrying one is worthwhile as sitting and sleeping is much more comfortable. Matts come in two types: inflatable or sold foam. Inflatable matts work really well, pack small but you run the risk of a puncture without diligence. Foam matts won’t puncture but they can be bulky.

Make sure you have a warm layer for comfort, temperatures drop with darkness. A jacket (usually down) will also allow you to add warmth while sleeping if required. A lightweight sleeping bag and down jacket is preferable (by general consensus) over a combination sleeping bag that turns into a jacket. A jacket and bag offers flexibility, weighs less and packs smaller but will be considerably more expensive.


8 – PACE

Remember that you have entered a race that lasts multiple days. Spread your effort and have the big picture in mind – pace yourself. Don’t set off too quickly and consider race profiles, distances and cut-off times. YOU take responsibility of when you need to be at checkpoints. A day with a great deal of climbing, soft sand or technical train will take longer, allow for this and be prepared. Most multistage races have a long day and it’s fair to say it is the most feared day – keep some energy back for that day. Remember, the long day often has a generous time allowance so don’t be worried by taking a sleep break midway through.



Most races will have markers for you to follow but be sensible and self-aware of the challenge. If a race requires you to carry a map and compass, then please understand how to use them. Carry a Spot Tracker for safety and if you use a GPS such as Suunto or Garmin, remember that these watches plot a route that you can use to backtrack. In a race like MDS it is difficult to go off course due to the volume of people, remember though that dunes are not way-marked and you will be given a bearing to run off. If you are alone or in the dark, an understanding of how this works is a positive.



A multistage journey often offers so much more than any single-day race. It’s an experience like no other and friends made in the desert, jungle or mountains will stay with you forever. Also remember that this journey is a hark back to a more primitive and simple time – embrace that. Leave your phone at home, leave gadgets at home and live a simple life for a week – I guarantee it will change you!

contributions from

Elisabet Barnes, Danny Kendall, Jo Meek, Nikki Kimball and Laurence Klein




“The simple act of running, placing one foot in-front of the other as a method of transport takes us back to our roots, our basic instincts. In search of a place to sleep, to hunt for food; it is about being in the wild, surviving and fulfilling a primal need.”

Richtersveld Wildrun | Avaunt Magazine-1


Join 2015 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes, South Africa’s unstoppable Linda Doke and the UK’s Tobias Mews in the 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun.

Linda Doke, Zinal, Switzerland - image ©iancorless.com

Linda Doke, Zinal, Switzerland – image ©iancorless.com

The 2015 edition of the race was an incredible, mind-blowing journey but in 2016, the race goes one step further and becomes ‘Transfrontier.’ The race will now pass over the Orange River and in to Namibia.

Elisabet Barnes 2016 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica (2nd place lady).

Elisabet Barnes 2016 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica (2nd place lady).

Known as one of the most scenic and unique trail running stage race events on the South African trail running calendar the Richtersveld Wildrun™ takes a new direction and in doing so become a cross-border trail running event; a worlds first! Extending to a linear 200km race, the five day crossing from South Africa to Namibia goes through the heart of the stunning /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have unlocked a truly unique opportunity to experience both sides of such a unique and powerful place  – and to finish a long day at a natural hot springs in the middle of the wilderness is unbelievable!”said Owen Middleton,” MD of Wildrunner, the events company behind the Wildrun™ events.

Tobias Mews, The Dragon's Back Race 2015.

Tobias Mews, The Dragon’s Back Race 2015.

Including the Vyf Susters, Hellskloof Pass, Armmanshoek, the Tswayisberge, Springbokvlakte and the iconic Tatasberg boulders, the new route will maintain the best of the first three days of the original edition but on day 4, the route will veer of its original course and cross the Orange River at De Hoop into Namibia. Yes, the race will go into the untouched southern section of the Fish River Canyon made famous by Ryan Sandes.


It’s no easy addition to the race, runners will need to cover 50km into a wilderness that is completely inaccessible by vehicle. Rich in wildlife, runners will have a once in a lifetime experience with a possibility of seeing Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, Namibian wild horses and giraffe. It’s the race of a lifetime!

Tobia Mews is no stranger to incredible races, his recent book release called ’50 Race To Run Before You Die’ looks like it will need a new chapter, 51 Races…

“I am so looking forward to this race. For me it’s the epitome of adventure running wrapped up in one of the most stunning places on earth. And it’s partly Ian Corless‘s fault for producing such amazing photos from last year.” – Tobias Mews


After a long, tough day in Namibia, runners will spend the evening in a canyon at a natural hot spring, before taking on the final day of roughly 25km to finish at the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort and wrap up a powerful and truly unique experience.

Race dates are 13-17 June 2016


International entries HERE

European entries HERE

The overall race distance for 2016 will be 200km and the daily distances will be – 36.3km + 32.1km + 34km + 48.3km + 21.3km.


Terrain is very mixed, varied and stunning and requires adaptation to sandy terrain, heat, climbing, remoteness and an ability to run with a GPS.

Need help with multi-day training? join our 2017 multi-day training camp in Lanzarote.

Details are HERE

Multi-Day Camp Image

Roland Vorwerk, marketing manager of Boundless Southern Africa, one of the driving forces behind the success of the event, said they are very happy to support this new cross-border trail running event.

“This new route contains even more highlights than the original Richtersveld Wildrun™, and promises to give participants a challenging but spectacular trail running experience.”



If you need inspiration, check out the film from 2015 below.

You can also view photo galleries HERE

THE CHAMPION RETURNS – ESTER ALVES and The Coastal Challenge #TCC2017


Ester Alves a former road cyclist from Portugal, who represented her nation at the 2009 UCI Road World Championships and ladies winner of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge has confirmed that she will return to Costa Rica in 2017 to defend her crown.

It was a tremendous experience. Every day is like your last day, and after the end of each stage, you have only few hours to reborn, to recover. It’s an amazing transcendent experience. Similar to a cycling stage race…. You always give your best for each stage and then you just hope your body will recover as soon as possible.


The Coastal Challenge is multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Considered by many an ultimate multi-day running experience, it challenges even the most experienced runner.

Everything is special, the heat, the forest, the solitude of the race, the hot pacific sea, the intimacy between organisation, camping, athletes, workers and locals from the little villages. The closeness between my new ‘coastal family’ was enormous and in a week of racing and relaxing you create bounds for life… it’s what makes the race so special.


‘TCC’ is not a self-sufficient race, but don’t be fooled, MDS and other multi-day veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than many other adventures they have participated in. It’s a race that can provide a steep learning curve. Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain and the need to adapt, Ester says in 2017 she will be better prepared.

I will try to go to Costa Rica or I will do some specific training using heat sessions at home. Maybe a sauna will be a good idea as it is winter in Portugal in the key training phase. In 2016 I went from 8 º C To 34 ºC, the first day was tough! Each day I adapted to heat and the my body recovered better, to make this adaptation in advance would be very beneficial.


Hugging the Talamaca coastline, the TCC travels in and out of the stunning mountain range that runs parallel to the sea. Dense forest trails, waterfalls, river crossings, long stretches of golden beaches, an abundance of palm trees and many winding and interconnecting dusty access roads provide a unique challenge.

Every day I ended  a stage with the feeling of lungs burned and legs tired, and in the next day I was running again with a reinforced motivation. I can’t wait to return.


At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors.  In 2017, Anna Comet, 2x winner of Everest Trail Race and someone you have raced against in Skyrunning along with Elisabet Barnes will be present. When Ester was asked  about the challenge, she replied:

I will run with all my soul and strengths as always, but next year with more knowledge I can hopefully enjoy the forest and the trails even more, TCC is just a wonderful experience.



With victory in 2016 secured, Ester has a busy year ahead racing in the Skyrunner World Series, something she has embraced, particularly in 2015 where she had great success at races such as Transvulcania. Many runners however will sign up for the 2017 TCC with little or no experience of Costa Rica, the heat, the humidity and the terrain; what advice would Ester give them?

Train hard and consolidate the marathon distance before the race and prepare the body for the heat and dehydration. Also teach your body to be more economic, it’s a long and difficult race!

A long year ahead but Ester is already looking into the distance, thinking of the heat, the humidity and the beautiful surroundings that Costa Rica provides.

The Coastal Challenge is more than a race, it’s an experience, it something to be shared. It provides closeness and an intensity of feelings that will never be forgotten… I wish to be there right now.


All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE


More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE


BARNES is BACK! The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017


2017 UK registrations now open HERE

The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Elisabet Barnes (Sweden/UK)), female winner of the 2015 Marathon des Sables, Oman Desert Marathon and runner up in the 2016, The Coastal Challenge will return once again to Costa Rica in 2017.

“TCC is a magical race and this has been echoed by so many participants after the 2016 edition. I loved the variety of the course, the challenges in terms of heat, humidity and terrain and the friendly atmosphere. I am really looking forward to returning in 2017 already!”

A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers new challenge even to the most experienced runner.

“I now know what aspects of the course and the terrain I coped well with and what aspects I can improve on.” Elisabet said after the 2016 edition. “The good thing is that I have quite a few improvement areas on this type of terrain so if I manage to do specific enough preparations there is certainly potential to do better next time around. I think this is encouraging and it will help me develop as a trail runner, broadening my skill set.”


Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

“Not carrying equipment makes the running easier and that is nice of course. However, if I look at my strengths I like the completely self-sufficient races too. I am tall and strong and I run well with a backpack. In many cases this means I can get a relative advantage over runners who are less experienced running with a pack or who have a smaller frame than me. I still felt that the TCC was a tough race due to the humidity and terrain and if it was self-sufficient it would be incredibly hard.”


Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

“You always have an advantage when you have done a race once. I know the course and the challenges better now. In terms of the heat and humidity I found it tough but not a major problem. Time was a limiting factor before the race but ideally I would have spent a bit more time acclimatizing to the conditions.”


2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights. The race has already announced that Anna Comet, winner of the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Everest Trail Race will participate in 2017. Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.

But Elisabet Barnes is a multi-day expert and before 2017 comes around, a very busy calendar awaits:

“First I am going back to Marathon des Sables in April and it will be my third race. I am looking forward to it and I predict a very competitive women’s race this year with several top runners coming back from previous years and also some new, extremely competent runners participating. It should be interesting. After this I am going to Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa in June, followed closely (1 week!) by the Big Red Run in Australia. Later in the year I am going to the US for Grand to Grand. I am very excited about all of these races and the year ahead.”


The 2016 edition of TCC tested Elisabet and unlike the MDS, the race is not self-sufficient. In many respects it was a learning curve but 2017 will be very different.

“The TCC is not self-sufficient so you can afford to take some more luxuries like a fresh set of running gear for every day, a few pairs of shoes etc. Also not having to cook reduces admin time in camp and means you can spend more time relaxing. From the perspective of the terrain it is completely different with a lot more ascent and descent and technical parts of trail. It requires a different skill set than running in sand and over flat hard packed desert terrain. Finally, the humidity makes it a different beast. Heat is always tough but when you add humidity you have another element to deal with and possibly have to monitor your body even more closely. The same is true with all the water you run through which means that your feet are wet pretty much 100% of the time.”


Anna Comet will no doubt push Elisabet every step of the way on the 2017 TCC journey and of course, at this stage, other female elite racers may decide to enter the race. The TCC has a long history of top female competition – Anna Frost, Jo Meek, Julia Better and Nikki Kimball to name just a few. Of course, Elisabet’s main concern may well be the possibility that 2016 champion Ester Alves from Portugal may return?

“It was great to race against Ester in 2016. She is a lovely girl and a genuinely nice person. I am very happy for her that she won the race. I now know more about her strengths relative mine and how I can improve to reduce the gaps that led her to victory. I know that Ester is very focused though, so should she decide to return I am sure she will work very hard to keep improving too. If our paths don’t cross in TCC next year, I am sure we will see each other in another race before long.”


In a very short space of time Elisabet has rose through the ranks to be one of the most respected multi-day races in the world. A very busy 2016 will only add to that reputation! The 2017 TCC is already looking like an incredibly exciting race.


All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE


More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE


Foot Care for the Mult-Day Runner or Ultra Runner by Ourea



If you intend to treat foot problems as they arise at any multi-day race you may well have already chosen the wrong strategy!  If you haven’t started, then start your foot-care preparation now. After all, feet are the most important part of your kit.

This article was first published via the Cape Wrath Ultra

Experience from the 2015 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ has shown us that 38% of the competitors had medical treatment for blisters, and that blisters were the reason many participants failed to complete the full course or had to retire from the event altogether. This statistic is also reflected in many other multi-day races such as Marathon des Sables, The Coastal Challenge or the Everest Trail Race for example. If you haven’t already read the 2015 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ Medical Report (HERE), then we strongly suggest you do, and pay particular attention to the Race Director’s comments at the end.

These are:

After some consideration and discussion with the medical team we are going to introduce a triage system…, much like you would see at an Accident and Emergency hospital and insist that competitors take primary responsibility for their own foot care. This will mean:

  1. Patients will be assessed in a triage system prior to treatment with the most needy being treated first, regardless of the how long others may have already queued.
  2. We will not assess anyone’s feet unless they have been washed and are presented in a clean, mud free condition.
  3. We will expect minor blisters to be treated by competitors themselves.
  4. At triage assessment advice will be given as to whether a blister is ‘minor’ and how to treat it if required.
  5. Competitors must have their own blister treatment kit and this is part of the mandatory kit list for the event.

Of course, many races offer varied systems of foot care while racing. Marathon des Sables has very much lead the way with the innovative ‘Doc Trotters’ foot team. However, listen to any experienced racer and they always say:

‘I like to look after my own feet. Autonomy is best. I can treat my feet as I require and I don’t need to wait in a long line for my turn when I cn be resting, eating, drinking or sleeping!’


 The Cape Wrath Ultra™ have been very clear ahead of the 2016 race in providing a FAQ which can be read HERE

Scroll down to the ‘Support and Services’ section:

9) What medical facilities will be available?
There will be a medical support team for participants at the Overnight Camp and a medic can be summoned to Checkpoints. However, the Cape Wrath Ultra™ has a strong self-reliance theme and participants will be expected to look after themselves and must bring a personal first aid kit for self-treating blisters, minor injuries and ailments, for cleaning wounds and for addressing most kinesiology issues. The Medical Team will prioritise and work on more serious incidents and ailments, but advise on minor issues. Our experience from the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ (HERE) is that the Medical team can get swamped with minor issues if not managed. Having said this, participants are encouraged to talk to the Staff & Medical Team if they have a concern about their personal well-being. The event will generally be a long way from any Hospital. 

It’s sound advice – be autonomous!


The Cape Wrath Ultra are expecting you to help them during the event by looking after yourself first and foremost but you are not on your own. There will be approximately 150 participants and you’ll be sharing tents with a number of others and the races encourages a buddy system to look after each other, not only on the hill, but in the camp too. So don’t be afraid to get down and dirty, and help each other look after your feet!

This theme is reflected at other events that I have worked on, Marathon des Sables for example creates networks of people as 8 runners share a bivouac. It can often be all for one and one for all.

Ourea Events have unashamedly based this summary advice on three sources. These people are experts at foot care for multi-day events:

There are references (with links) at the end of this section, and we thoroughly recommend that you read John Vonhof’s book. Then practice – a lot.

Everyone is unique and the advice here is for information purposes

Blister Prevention

Foot care is easily divided into several phases. We are sure you all know the 6Ps: ‘Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance’. Well, you should be thinking of this too!

  • Proper Preparation = foot care in the months before the race
  • Prevents = prevention of blisters before and during the race
  • Piss Poor Performance = treatment during and afterwards

Blister Prevention – Before the Race

Proper Preparation (months before the event)

  • Get rid of calluses, keep nails short*. Get rid of rough patches. Visit a chiropodist for proper advice and pedicure.
  • Keep the skin soft and supple with massages and skin-care creams. Some people recommend creams with shea butter.
  • Practice prevention.  Learn preventative taping: you know your own problem areas. Try alternative socks, shoes, strategies such as foot lubricants, powder and blister plasters. Consider friction reduction of the shoe.
  • We do not recommend vaseline, gels or similar products on your feet. Vaseline in particular is sticky, attracts grit and hardens in your socks.
  • We do not recommend waterproof shoes: They will fill with water and keep your feet wet. You will be running for eight days in wet terrain! Shoes should drain rapidly to help dry your feet.

* At all the Ourea Events expedition races a participant has had to withdraw because poorly maintained toe nails have caused blistering to adjacent toes. Don’t be a statistic… nails should be neatly trimmed about 5 days before the event.

Blister Prevention – During the Race

Prevents (pre-race and during race)

  • Use your practiced taping method. Use a skin adherent.
  • Use lubricants with caution on your feet. Do only what you know has worked in your training. If lubricants are used, Ourea reccommend Body Glide – Here.
  • Use good moisture-wicking socks and shoes that you are familiar with.
  • During the race change socks, clean and dry feet, reapply tapes, powder or gels as necessary. You should always do this immediately after finishing to give your feet the longest possible time to recover overnight.
  • Stop and treat hot-spots immediately.
  • At the end of each day pamper your feet: wash and dry them, massage them, keep them warm, keep your feet up whenever you can.
  • Remember there is no single method to be recommended. What works for you is the correct method.

Blister Assessment

Piss-Poor Performance
This is what happens if you don’t follow the other Ps! We insist that participants take primary responsibility for thier own footcare but Ourea medics are available to offer advice or treatment as required. A similar scenario exists at Marathon des Sables with Doc Trotters, The Coastal Challenge with Duggie Duggan and many other multi-day races will adopt a similar strategy of foot care. If you do develop a blister, the first questions to consider are:

  1. How bad is it?
  2. Can I treat it myself?
  3. Do I need medical advice or treatment?


A and B © Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ Competitor. C © Jim Mann (not his feet though!)

  • A: This foot has a blood blister and two small (intact) blisters. Whilst these will make running uncomfortable, these are not ‘bad’ blisters and particpants would be expected to treat these themselves at Ourea events.
  • B: This is certainly a painful blister but good quality self care (cleaning, padding, taping) allowed this participant to continue. Don’t worry about asking for treatment advice from the medics.
  • C: These blisters show signs of infection and required hospital treatment (they were sufficiently painful that the participant needed crutches to walk). Infected blisters are dangerous, look out for signs of infection – these include:
    • worsening pain
    • feels hot in the area
    • swelling and redness around the blister,
    • pus coming from the wound (yellow/green discharge not the normal clear yellow fluid)
  • D: Macerated feet (see picture below) are extremely sore and prone to infection. Macerated feet occur when the skin is saturated for long periods of time and this leads to the overhydrated skin becoming soft and easily damaged. Unlikely at Marathon des Sables, possible at The Coastal Challenge and a distinct possibility at any UK race… This condition in particular is a signifigant hazard at the Cape Wrath Ultra™ due to the wet nature of the Scottish Highland terrain.


© Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ Competitor

Blistered and macerated feet are treatable but only by withdrawal from the event. REMEMBER: Prevention is better than cure.

Blister Treatment

DIY blister care is simple with a general aim of reducing pressure friction at the blister site.

Blister Treament when the skin remains intact AND the blister does NOT require lancing:
This treatment protocol would be the same for a ‘hot spot’.

  1. Ensure your hands and feet are clean.
  2. Apply an non adhesive island dressing. Ensure that the blister is covered by the non adhesive part of the dressing.
  3. Tape to secure the dressing in place.
  4. Monitor for signs of infection and reapply dressing if it becomes soaked with fuild from the blister.

Blister Treament when the skin remains intact AND the blister requires lancing:
A blister only requires lancing once it has become swollen with fluid.

  1. Ensure your hands and feet are clean.
  2. Lance the blister using a sterile scapel blade. Lance in multiple sites to aid fluid removal.
  3. Gently massage the excess fluid under the blister out through the holes.
  4. Apply antiseptic such as Betadine.
  5. Apply an non adhesive island dressing. Ensure that the blister is covered by the non adhesive part of the dressing.
  6. Tape to secure the dressing in place.
  7. Monitor for signs of infection and reapply dressing once it has become soaked with fluid from the blister.

Blister Treament when the skin is broken:
When the ‘roof’ of skin over the blister site has partially torn.

  1. Ensure your hands and feet are clean.
  2. Apply antiseptic such as Betadine
  3. Apply an non adhesive island dressing. Ensure that the blister is covered by the non adhesive part of the dressing.
  4. Tape to secure the dressing in place.
  5. Monitor for signs of infection and reapply dressing once it has become soaked with fluid from the blister.

We do not recommend using Compeed or other ‘sticky blister plasters’ on blisters when the skin remains intact or whilst some skin remains on the blister site, this is because of the multi-day nature of the event. These types of plasters tend to stick to the blistering skin surface (the ‘roof’ of the blister) and tear it away when the blisters are assessed and/or re-dressed causing further damage.

Blister Treament when the skin has been removed :
This type of blister is known as ‘de-roofed’.

  1. Ensure your hands and feet are clean.
  2. Apply antiseptic such as Betadine
  3. Apply a hydrocolloid dressing (such as Compeed)
  4. Tape to secure the dressing in place.
  5. Monitor for signs of infection and reapply only once the dressing has naturally become soaked and peeled away (usually a few days).

Blister Treatment Kit

A Blister Treatment Kit is mandatory equipment for the Cape Wrath Ultra™. This MUST contain the following items that can be used by the participant or the medical team when treating a participant’s blister. The Blister Treatment Kit must include the following:

  • Sterile Medical Scalpel Blade (size #11) x5
  • Antiseptic Ointment (such as Betadine) 30ml
  • Sterile Non Adhesive Island Dressings (7cm x 6cm) x5
  • Sterile Cotton Swabs x10
  • Hydrocolloid Dressings (such as Compeed) x5
  • Profoot Moleskin Roll (7cm x 45cm) x1

Participants are welcome to source these supplies themselves or alternatively they can purchase a premade kit direct from us for £20 + p&p HERE

Mandatory kit at Ourea events also includes:

  • Kinesiology Tape (5cm x 5m) x1
  • Small Scissors x1

We strongly recommend that kinesiology tape is cut to length before the event as this is time-consuming and frustrating when tired.

Please note that a foot care medical kit is personal, find out what you need and what works for you!

All the above content is ©capewraithultra/ ©oureaevents

It is reproduced with permission.

Why not take part in our 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp which takes place in January each year? Details are available HERE



Foot care treatment is very personal and Elisabet Barnes, 2015 Marathon des Sables champion has some excellent ‘on-hand’ experience of how to look after feet from experience.

Many essential foot care items can be sourced HERE


Ourea Events HERE

Cape Wrath Ultra HERE

Disclaimer: We are all individuals and the information provided in this article is designed to provide information so that you can go away and ascertain what is the best foot care method for you and your own individual needs.

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – The Full Story


The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!

View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE


“Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”



“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”



“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”


“But where was Sa?”


“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”



Demand for the 2017 The Coastal Challenge is already high with pre-requests and provisional bookings. Entries open in the UK and Europe this week via www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

Why not take part in our 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp which takes place in January each year? Details are available HERE

Interested in The Coastal Challenge 2017? Use the form below to secure one of the 100 available places


The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 6 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

The stunning Drake Bay hosted the final day of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge. It’s an idyllic location located within the Osa Peninsula. Turquoise seas, blue skies and lush tropical vegetation make it one the most iconic places in Costa Rica.

The final day is to all intents and purposes a victory lap. Racing only really takes place if overall top positions are close, in the 2016 race, gaps between the top 3 were wide enough to make the day neutralised. However, despite this, Chema Martinez from Spain wanted to run and from the sound of the gun at 0615 he pushed hard at the front of the race and crossed the line alone for the final stage victory.

Iain Don-Wauchope, kicked back, puled out his GoPro and let the runners go ahead of him; it was a day of fun ahead.

Carlos Sa pushed the pace in one last effort to maybe take 2nd but when Gonzalo Callisto caught him and ran at his side with 50% of the day covered, they eased back and enjoyed the run for home.


The ladies race was well and truly over and Elisabet Barnes and Ester Alves ran the whole stage together, side-by side and they soaked up the Costa Rican ambience. They partied while running.


The final day is not without challenges though, an early run through a river bed, the crossing of a waterfall, hot running through open plantations and then a return journey to the beach finish at Drake Bay while weaving in and out of the stunning coastline.

The 2016 TCC will be remembered quite simply in just a few words:

Brutal, Beautiful and Hot!

It may well have been one of the hottest editions and word in and amongst the camp confirms that the race really has been a true test. MDS 2015 champion and Oman Desert Cup Champion, Elisabet Barnes, confirmed the thoughts of many on the finish line:

“This has been possibly one of the best races I have ever run. It has so much variety, so many challenges, no two days are the same and I have well and truly been pushed beyond my limits. The combination of such mixed terrain, intense heat and high humidity really do this make this race an ultimate challenge. But in and amongst this, the camp is relaxed, the food provided by the race incredible and the whole Costa Rican experience is one I will not forget. It has been special, really special.”


Damian Hall from the UK has placed in the top 50 at UTMB, been on the podium at The Spine and The Dragons Back and he also found TCC a true test placing 5th overall.

“The heat has been punishing, combined with humidity was brutal. The terrain has been so varied, it’s runnable at times but then other times you are just drawing along. It’s a seriously challenging race and the line-up has been top quality, I am really happy with 5th. The camp sites are amazing, the food has been brilliant and all-in-all it’s been a fantastic experience.”

Iain Don-Wauchope and Ester Alves are the 2016 champions, but to be honest, it may well sound like a cliche, any runner who survived this incredible 6-day experience deserves the ultimate respect.

It has been an awesome edition and talk now turns to 2017. Who will be back? Word in camp just hours after the race confirms that a few familiar names will return…

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 33:04:32
  2. Elisabet Barnes 33:46:20
  3. Amy Gordon 42:18:15

Full ladies’s results HERE

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 24:25:11
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 25:27:38
  3. Carlos Sa 25:46:59

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 6 is a wonderful looped lap of drake Bay – a victory lap.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 5 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Today was hot, very hot and very long! The longest stage of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge may well have been one of the most beautiful but 50km under the intense Costa Rican heat really did test every single runner int the race.

For the first time in the races’ 12-year history, the stage had an extra 4km. It doesn’t sound a great deal but at times it was technical and in addition, a new long beach section, a water crossing via boat and a stunning wooden rope bridge added to the days attractions.


The cool temperatures from the 0530 start soon disappeared and the intense, uncompromising heat arrived to punish the runners, the only consolation coming at the end with the stunning Drake Bay.


Chema Martinez finally found his Costa Rican legs and ran the stage side-by-side with race leader, Iain Don-Wauchope. They looked to be cruising on what was a very tough day. Don-Wauchope having run and won TCC in 2015 could appreciate the new course:

“The new additions are really stunning, no fantastic. But they are tough and challenging. The beach section was extremely tough due to the high tide. We had to run the tree line which made it difficult. But it’s a beautiful new addition to the race.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

Crossing the sea to river inlet by boat, Both Martinez and Don-Wauchope took an extended break to cool off and then finished off the stage in style by cruising to the line together.Gonzalo Callisto finished 3rd and secured his 2nd overall.


It was a similar story in the ladies race however it was less planned. Ladies race leader Ester Alves took the lead relatively early on and at one point had extended her lead to approximately 30-minutes. A couple of navigation errors reduced this to just 1-minute in the latter stages of the race and with just 8km to go, Elisabet Barnes and Alves ran together to the line.


“It was the correct thing to do,” Alves said after the race. “There was nothing left to race for in the final km’s and I enjoyed the time talking with Elisabet.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Elisabet Barnes:

“I was feeling very rough this morning with a very dodgy tummy and took me 20km’s to feel good. Ester pulled away and there was nothing I could do. I eventually caught her but we once again entered a very technical section and she once again pulled away. We finally came together again after the rope bridge with 8km to go, running together was a pleasure after a great battle. Today was beautiful but so hot!”

The race concludes tomorrow with what will be a victory lap of Drake Bay and the National Park. The 2016 TCC has been an incredible race; very tough but many will remember it because of the intense heat.

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 7:42:49
  2. Elisabet Barnes 17:42:49
  3. Tbc

Full ladies’s results HERE

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 5:4130
  2. Chema Martinez 5:41:30
  3. Gonzalo Calisto 5:52:16

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 6 is a wonderful looped lap of drake Bay – a victory lap.

Full race results HERE







The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 4 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

The 2016 ‘TCC” (The Coastal Challenge, moved inland today for 35km’s of relentless climbing, at times technical trail and a brutal descent that hammered tired legs all the way to the finish line. The early morning start of 0530 guaranteed the runners a good 1-hour window of cool temperatures but as they climbed higher and higher, low cloud sheltered them but eventually the cloud burned away and searing heat punished the runners.

Ester Alves made her mark on the race today by extending her lead by over 30-minutes, however, the winning margin doesn’t tell a true story. Elisabet Barnes fought very hard early on the keep Alves in sight and hopefully pull away, however, technical trail and a long section in a very technical river bed ruined any chance.

Alves was in her element; comfortable with Skyrunning and mountain races, she pushed at a comfortable pace and never looked in any discomfort on the challenging terrain. Although she had a 10-minute lead in the river bed section at approximately 30km covered, it was on the final descent (almost 1000m) were the real gap was opened. Barnes said post race:

“I hated that final descent, I was out of my comfort zone and I knew any chance of catching Ester was over. I took my time and made my way down without injury.”

Alves finished the stage and many commented how relaxed she looked and how well she has adapted to the heat after a tough day 1. A real point of topic is how little she has been drinking… a no, no for the local but it has worked for Alves.

“Every stage I have anticipation, I never know what to encounter… roads, forests, rivers or trails. It has been amazing. I wasn’t ready for the heat but as the days pass I am getting better and better. I love the heat. I trained before the race for 30km run sessions on little water and that has worked well here. Everyone has been amazed how little I am drinking but it has worked. I like to go simple; fast and light! The competition with Elisabet has been great. She has won MDS and that inspires me, she has been a great competitor. I think if we were in the desert I am sure she would pull away from me but here I love the technical trail and that has been a great advantage for me.” – Ester Alves

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves
  2. Elisabet Barnes
  3. Amy Gordon

Full ladies’s results HERE


The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Iain Don-Wauchope, Gonzalo Callisto and Chema Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Callisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings. But where was Sa?


Sa was trailing a few minutes back.

When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Calisto.

“We were having a great run, relaxed, chatting and just a great day on the trails and then Sa flew past us,” Don-Wauchope said. “He really mixed things up and as he pulled away I went with him. He was really motoring. We started to pull away and I felt good. Eventually I pulled away and Calisto bridged the gap back to Sa. The downhill at the end was tough as it was so rutted but I was glad for another stage victory” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

All credit to Sa for making a move and throwing it all on the line. Tomorrow is the longest stage of the week and I wonder if Sa will have another go? The longer the stage, the better he gets and heat is no issue as he proved by winning Badwater 135.


The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope
  2. Gonzalo Calisto
  3. Carlos Sa

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 5 starts is the longest day of the week and leads into the stunning Drakes Bay. Everyone is tired now, no exhausted! It’s going to be a tough day.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 3 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Today was always gone to be a tough one and it lived up to expectations. Departing Dominical beach, the runners very quickly entered a river bed that lasted for km after km. Rock hopping, running through flowing river water with slimy slippery rocks, it was just perfect terrain for South Africa’s ‘The Otter’ previous course record holder, Iain Don-Wauchope.

Running in his element, Don-Wauchope opened up a gap almost immediately and by the time he reached the stunning waterfalls, he had time to dive in the lagoon and pose for a photograph before moving onwards and upwards on the trail. Running with apparent ease Don-Wauchope continued to open up a gap on Gonzalo Callisto and Carlos Sa. This course and its variety is made for Don-Wauchope’s running style and just as in 2015, he pushed the pace all the way to the long and lengthy final beach section before climbing through a small hilly section of rainforest and finishing a triple of stage wins.

“I made sure I covered myself with water every 5mins or so on the beach. It was so hot and it seemed to go on forever. The highlight of the day was the waterfalls though. In 2015 I was too busy racing and I didn’t have time to soak up the location. This year I promised myself I would take a swim and climb on the rocks.” – Iain Don-Wauchope

Sa and Calisto weren’t hanging around, not at all. They were gently running the climbs and pushing as hard as they could under the intense heat and humidity. Running side-by-side, they have most certainly become good friends on this TCC journey.


From Calisto’s perspective, his lead over Sa is enough to secure 2nd place and I am sure he plans to just mark Sa and respond to any surges. Will Sa try to take 2nd away? His best chance will come tomorrow on the very undulating 4th stage.

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 11:42:01
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 12:32:18
  3. Carlos Sa 12:38:08

Damian Hall from the UK moved up into 5th place after a great  run today, his overall time is 13:45:36

Full men’s results HERE

The ladies race was always going to be exciting today and as expected, Ester Alves opened up a gap on Elisabet Barnes in the opening riverbed section. At the waterfalls, Barnes trailed by 7-minutes. It was a good result, the gap could have quite easily been larger. After the climb out and following the 2nd waterfall, Barnes started to pursue Alves and eventually caught her 3km before Cp2.


“I caught Ester just before the Cp but unfortunately it was followed with a s series of technical terrain and she started to open up a gap again; all the handwork to a certain extent was wasted. By the time I reached Cp3 just before the beach, the gap was 6-minutes,” Barnes said post race. “I felt good though and I thought to myself, this is great, it’s a long beach section that is runnable and I was convinced I would close the gap and with luck, I may catch her. But unfortunately she ran well and I didn’t run to expectation. It was just so hot and relentless. Thank goodness the small lagoon was at the end so that I could cool down.”



Alves ran a great race and looked strong on the beach maintaining a good pace and cadence. She was obviously very happy with her day once past the finish tape:

“It was a beautiful day and I am really happy. The course was stunning and the variety was just incredible. The beach was beautiful but too long… I couldn’t wait for it to end!”

Alves now leads Barnes but anything can happen. It just takes a bad moment or a bad day for all the good work to be lost. Day 4 has plenty of climbing and day 5 plenty of running. It’s wide open and very exciting.


The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 15:59:12
  2. Elisabet Barnes 16:10:38
  3. Amy Gordon 21:06:44

Full ladies’s results HERE


Full ladies’s results HERE

Stage 4 starts with a tough climb and finishes with a steep technical descent. Between the two are rolling hills and pastures made of runnable trails.

Full race results HERE

More images to follow when I have suitable wifi – apologies