Interesting topic which very often crops up in Adventure Racing simply due to the amount of time that you are spending on your feet, very often in wet shoes as a result of tromping through bogs or a solid soaking from kayaking.
The article in the link is well worth reading but the key point raised, I think, is the lack of adequate preparation by athletes when they are aware of the availability of medical help at events.
Many runners have become dependent and expectant that events will have medical personnel providing even the most basic foot care.
I’ve written before about my own foot care issues where it went wrong and then steps taken and changes made that have meant I ***touch wood*** have had no problems since.
I’ve had no issues since I discovered the system that works for me and that is Goretex shoes (Saucony Xodux GTX – a whole size larger than normal), waterproof socks (DexShell Ultralite from Mapdec) and a thin lining sock within this concoction. Foot care in transition involves, removing shoes, socks and allowing feet to breathe whilst taking care of TA business and then before heading off, wiping (babywipes), drying, powdering and reassembly of fresh liner sock, fresh DexShell and back into the shoes that have been checked for all debris and grit.
However, recent experience during the 5 day ITERA expedition race has me a little more introspective on this subject than normal.
The race started with a run – grand, no issues; a long paddle – kayak booties & shoes in dry bag, no issues and then we were all pulled out for a road trek to transition.
This trek – we changed back into our shoes and set off with OK feet but during the course of the road, beach, sand, dunes, trek our shoes (& feet) were subjected to a fair bit of abuse as our shoes filled with sand from crossing beach streams. (With Goretex shoes the sand DIDN’T get into the shoe it filled between the outer lining and Goretex layers putting pressure on toes).
Key thing here which we missed in briefing was we didn’t have access to Team Kit in the next TA before the planned 25k (short course) trek so we had 20k which beat up our feet somewhat followed by 32k without having treated our feet though we did have a change of socks.
The BIG lesson learned was always carry footcare kit in one of the packs.
Furthermore and back to the original point, if you are an expedition racer or ultra runner or conduct yourself over terrain, distance or conditions where you may feasibly get into trouble through foot damage – then you really should be taking care of it yourself. Under no circumstances should an event organiser or event medic be taking care of your feet for you.
If you are relying on ‘outside’ assistance to get you through an event then IMO you haven’t done the homework and prepared yourself properly for participation.
What do you think? How do you take care of your feet and what works for you?
07/06/16 – Post updated to include the ordering link.
So you’re counting down to ITERA in August and you have all your ducks in a row. Training is going well and you might even be thinking of your packing and gear lists.
The one thing you might miss out on, especially the domestic teams, is the need for a bike box. Because we are not flying anywhere and as previous domestic races provided universal bike transport boxes we may not have thought of it.
Event:Causeway Coast Adventure Race, Round 2 in Boyle Co. Roscommon – 5 hours, MTB, Trekking, Orienteering, Kayak and Special Tasks in teams of 2. Collect as many controls as you can. Penalties for roads off limits and every minute over 5 hours.
ULAC was again the location for a secret sortie of night-time manoeuvres last weekend.
Meeting up at the carpark a very excited Mike got to meet his new kayak which he carefully unwrapped before getting down to the business of the plans for the evening. With a bundle of maps showing CP’s from last year’s Beast and a strategy of bike, hike, kayak until tomorrow we got our gear and packs organised.
There were a number of systems being tested out; splitting navigation roles on the bike, with CP details (location etc) reverting back to the stand by NAV once Chief NAV had assumed command. Using map boards for the first time (we use Nordenmark map boards) we suddenly realised how easily life could be!! 🙂
Of course though, I had to have my cockpit set up ‘just so’ with my bike light and VIRB tucked in nicely underneath the mapboard on K-edge mounts I was happy out!
Leaving Ballina we cruised over to Silvermines village on the back roads adhering to the rules of the Beast and headed up “The Step”. Appropriately named piece of steep road that goes up and up! Over the top we then had a section of MTBo to find the first CP which was a stake in the ground. A little bit of hesitation as the maps were old versions and Coillte shift fire roads around a little. A little bit of recall from the forest map and gut instinct lead us up a narrow trail to turn right and up to ‘find’ the CP and dib in (1) on my GPS track.
Coming back from CP 1 the decision to rejoin the Slieve Felim Way by cutting across a section of bog was made (in hindsight correct though map not accurate enough to be 100%) following a brief bushwhacking we turned and went for the fast option of dropping down the trail we know and out…
Sorry for laughing….. 😀 😀
Mike in the lead…. just ahead of me…. retracing over the swampy bog… suddenly upended! It was like something from a cartoon the way he went in slow motion over the handlebars as his front wheel went hub deep in bog. Getting up he had the look of something alien as peaty black mud was stuck to his face, clothes and hands.
This is the second time this has happened to him, right in front of me…sorry! Oh how I wish I had the camera on for this one! 🙂
A quick check that he was ok, a squirt down with water to clean him, the bike & maps and we were dropping down through a lovely tunnel of overhanging branches. I really enjoyed this as I’d powerful lights and could really let rip on the descent. Awesome!!
Back on the Slieve Felim Way we quickly made our way around on the Keeper Challenge route to nab CP2 which bore memories of us standing in the rain last year, facing a team meltdown and a mini tantrum (ok a right throw-down tantrum) from me over not being able to pump up the bike tyres enough.
Finding the CP on the bottom of a post 12 months ago was like a pressure release valve! Easily found tonight 🙂
Not so easily found was the route we wanted to Keeper Hill from the backside. Again the GPS shows we were doing ok, and even going for high ground out of the trees we could see what our objective was. Unfortunately we did not trust the maps enough and also did not want to be allnight on the way to Keeper. We wanted sunrise over Lough Derg. Decision made to drop back down onto the main road and a nice big loop around to connect at Shallee and across to Ballina to ULAC for the transition to the hike.
05:52 / 71.5km / 1315m ^
Dropping the bikes and swapping over nav duties I took the lead for the hike section. The issue was this is so familiar to us at this stage it is hard to let go of knowledge and trust the map and compass but that is the point of the exercise so put memories out of mind.
Transition was slow as treacle. I changed shoes and socks as I wanted to try out a new combo. I also wanted long pants as with tick season on us there is no point taking chances with getting a nip on bare legs or arms. Definitely something to be worked on is smooth changes with a purpose.
CP1 on the hike was easily found even to the point of remembering the position in the bank on the tree. Continuing on we grabbed a quick snap of Lough Derg lighting up and a team selfie (lost forever 🙁 ) and rambled on up to tackle Moylussa. Funnily enough I felt tight and sore in my calves, I put it down to lingering Coast2Coast and not really backing off run volume, so the ascent was tough on my legs. I stopped and took another photo of Lough Derg using a post as a ‘tripod’ and retook the lead for the walk across the bog to the peak stone.
I would on any other day take a snap of Moylussa peak, but I have one. As destiny would have it I would probably have discovered here that my phone was gone and quickly retrieved it. I didn’t and as a result, didn’t.
We spun around and checked bearings to MP2 (Training CP2) and set off on a beeline over the mountain bog. Reading the vegetation I spotted water and potential bog holes so negotiated around them. The bracken is tough on the legs as you are having to high step over it. I called a decision to make our way to a track that on the map lead to the second peak and expecting something better than what we were in, lead the way over.
This was the wrong decision as the ‘track’ was a track but was mostly bog. We ended up hiking through the same stuff we had left and on a longer tack too. My bad 🙁
We got the BP3 which was much further away than it looked from Moylussa. Checking the map for BP4 we decided to cut it out and drop down to BP5. After a brief “it’s a cliff” objection we opted to check it out and leading the way we quickly dropped down approx 100m over bracken & brush and as I looked back to see the others I though “perfect photo! The team against the blue sky!!” reaching for my phone I discovered it was GONE!!
Not where I put it. A quick pocket check and pack check and I was gone scampering back up. The thought through my head was I’d promised to ring home at 9am so they’d know we were safe off the mountain.
I was gutted. I’ve never lost a phone. I went back to BP3, retracing my steps and carefully picking my way back down scoured the scrub for any sign of a nice, big, bright yellow phone.
No joy 🙁
Anyway pick it back up, it’s only a phone, and we finished the drop to the tree line which was deceptive from the top. Still rough, but a narrow belt of trees leading to a cleared area with young pines popping up.
I reckon we saved ourselves 2.5-3 hours of ‘easy’ hiking by dropping and beating our way to BP5 (4) skipping BP4.
From then on it was hiking around the trails working on skills like picking out features on the map and identifying on the ground and vice versa. Checking orientation and the like.
Nabbing the next CP and routing towards the last BP we spotted a potential shortcut. Identifying a trail that runs in the direction of the CP we could look to ford a stream to come into the back of the CP saving ourselves 30-40 mins of hike out and back. This worked out a treat and we ‘dibbed’ in and tracked back out and down to the lakeside for the next phase.
05:14 / 20.75km / 860^
Again we seemed to take forever on the transition from hike to kayak. More down to general jawing than anything else!
There was a nice little chop as we headed up lake. The boat was lifting and slapping down on the waves which thankfully were running perpendicular to our travel direction. Cutting across waves in these SIT’s is not pleasant and is a quick route to having to swim!
A little comms. issue had our boat heading straight up the Lough while Mike cut away to the left. He’d a nice tempo going and was moving along swiftly to the other island. We waited until it was clear which island he was going for and when we hit calmer water we cut across to meet him as he came around the island. Turning in the lee of the island was perfect, only a little roll in the boat but heading back to ULAC running with the waves and the wind behind us gave the illusion of not moving at all.
Despite paddling just as hard we seemed to be sitting still in the water. Weird sensation. Shortly after the turn Mike started to drop off quickly and looked very fatigued. We spoke about drafting and a tow but with no line (I intended rigging a line up and storing on board, just in case, but didn’t get time) he fell back quickly.
Paddling for shore my plan was to get a line and turn back for him however the current seemed to help as the waves picked up closer to shore and both boats rode in quite well on the surf so by the time I’d got the line and back to the boat he was pretty much ashore.
01:55 / 10.3 /
An executive decision was made and we called an end to the session. We had talked about cycling to Tountinna for a spin around the trail but lack of nutrition, fatigue and lessons to assimilate meant we wisely decided to debrief in the morning sunshine 🙂
We learned a few things overnight, we worked out some new tactics, some new nav techniques and the need to eat more!!!
Following on from where we left off at the Share Centre feeding ourselves with homemade lasagne and x1 packet of crisps it became apparent that despite what we believed from the briefing there was no requirement for the non-stop racers to dib in at the centre and most of the other racers obviously were not stopping.
We were only ten minutes halted to grab a quick bite and toilet before we were off again. Darkness was down at this stage, we met one other team coming in as we went out and back onto the road with our support van following behind.
So easy to look at something in hindsight and find fault and very often the purpose of attributing of fault is to justify your own shortcomings.
On one hand I am delighted with the weekend spent Coast2Coast racing with my wife – all that I expected and hoped would happen did. We came down off the mountain tired but closer than ever with renewed vigour and appreciation for each other.
Sean got out over the weekend on one of the rivers close to where he lives in Galway.
As you can see after all the recent rain there is a fair bit of swell in the water which meant a decent flow and a fair bit of chop. It is all about learning though and some simple things like forgetting to take out the scupper plugs can make a massive difference in how the boat handles.
This is the first section. After deliberately scooting past the exit point he turned to see how the boat would go up stream…. it didn’t!!! 🙂
This was expected, so he carried on down to the next set of bridges at Kilcolgan just before heading out to sea where a nice paddle would bring you out by Moran’s of the Weir. There is a second video being edited of the lower stream which flows through a lot of flooded land and with several small weirs it was again very choppy in places.
All in good time for the Coast2Coast this weekend!!
One of the big challenges in Adventure Racing (apart from kayaking, swimming, hiking, mountain biking and generally staying awake for days on end!!) is that you have to deal with Night Navigation and travel.
Unfortunately we are not build with eyes that are capable of night vision so we rely on outside sources of light to see where we are going.
Fortunately Team #TriHarder have a fantastic sponsor by way of Silva Sweden who have just sent us a goodie box packed full of lux of brightness!! 🙂
In here we have a number of the Silva CrossTrail II 250 which is a super-bright multi functional lamp ideal for use on the trail whatever you’re out there doing! It can quickly be switched between the head band to a helmet or handle bar mount making it a great choice and all the attachments are included in the box. Set up the mount on the bike and helmet and easily switch between mounts (though Sean generally sticks with the head strap throughout).
The maximum light produced is an amazing 250 lumens, which gives us an excellent 80 meter beam allowing us (no excuses) travel quickly with confidence. The Cross Trail II has an external belt mounted battery pack allowing it to be carried around the waist ensuring stability.
A thicker elasticated head band holds the lamp securely in place with a rubberised band, ensuring it stays put over the roughest terrain. Intelligent light technology* provides bright light on the track in front of you and also at your feet, enabling you to run or ski with confidence.
*Silva Intelligent Light® is a light distribution technology. It combines a wide angle flood light with a long reach spot light. The unique light image gives the user peripheral and long distance vision at the same time.
The second box of lights is a set of the Simi which are stylish high-output safety lights that are easy to mount on frame or handlebars which we have in white and red light. (Front and back)
The bright LED lights are capable of a fixed or flashing light output which is super bright ensuring that we are seen. Very, very handy when barrelling along country roads at 2 and 3am on mountain bikes!!
As always we are ever grateful for the support of such awesome companies like Silva and really look forward to delivering results with their help through 2015 and beyond.
If you would like to check out the Silva range please visit their website or even better pop over to our retail sponsor and use your #TriHarder special discount code to get a great deal on the range.
As we start counting down the days to our Beast of Ballyhoura adventure for 2015 it is worth acknowledging and thanking the companies who have supported us through our racing and training to date.
First up we would like to thank Ronhill UK for providing us with the required all weather gear that kept us dry and snug through all sorts of weather both at last August’s Beast of Ballyhoura but also through other events and last winters training. The jackets are being put through their paces in all kinds of conditions and really are standing up to the rigours.
Here is Sean’s post from last year:
As you may know I am training as part of Team #TriharderAR to take part in The Beast of Ballyhoura.
I am lucky in my position with work to be in touch with some of the most amazing specialist brands on the market (all of whom we stock in Amphibian King Galway)
As part of our mandatory kit for The Beast we are required to have fully waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers.
As it turns out Ronhill UK have off the shelf specialist jackets and trousers and are supporting Team Triharder with a complete set for each team member!!
Awesome, thankyou Ronhill!!
Spec on the Trail Tempest Jacket-
Market leading super-lightweight waterproof running jacket
Mountain marathon event regulation spec
Just 250 grms.
2.5 layer hydrophilic coating
Waterproof to a minimum 10,000mm hydrostatic head
Breathable: minimum 15,000 g/m2/24hours (mVtr)
Spec on the Trail Tempest Trousers-
Super lightweight, waterproof, & complementary, running pant for the trail tempest Jacket.
Mountain marathon event regulation spec
Just 166 grms.
2.5 layer hydrophilic coating
Waterproof to a minimum 10,000mm hydrostatic head
Breathable: minimum 15,000 g/m2/24hours
Other equipment suppliers will be coming on board. If you have a product you feel is suitable for Adventure Racing and would like us to field test or review, we’d be delighted to help 🙂
We are grateful for all the support and look forward to another year flying the Ronhill flag!