Your feet matter. Seriously. Without careful preparation and rigorous attention to their condition throughout the race, you will not complete the MdS. After dehydration, foot problems are the main reason for visiting the Doc Trotters medical tent – and for failing to reach the line.
So how can you best prepare them for the distance and terrain they will endure? There are two schools of thought: harden them up or keep them soft and supple. Ideally you want tough, supple feet.
DON’T have a beauty pedicure just before the race. DO visit a qualified and registered podiatrist for a full assessment and to have your nails professionally trimmed. Do this twice – once in the middle of your training, and once just before the race. Learn how to tape your feet, drain blisters and keep them clean.
Consider choosing shoes that are up to two (European) sizes larger than usual with a wider fitting at toe level. Feet may swell in the heat both in length and width, and if you tape your feet – this should be accommodated in the shoe size choice. A recurring favourite sock choice are Injinji toe socks.
And train intelligently, a little and often will be better than risking breaking yourself with occasional large distance outings. Training is best when it is planned and consistent. The race is a hefty yomp every day – so if you can, try and emulate that. It is highly unlikely you will run all the course, most people walk a significant part of the course, if you think that is you, then you should be doing the same! And of course, … prepare your feet well and they will carry you all the way to the finish line of the Toughest Footrace on Earth.
BEST FOOT FORWARD: TOP TIPS FROM MdS’s MEDICAL EXPERTS
Doc Trotters are the MdS’s experienced medical team, who will keep you both healthy and safe. They will be available at all checkpoints and each bivouac every evening. Pop in to see them to stop a small problem that is easily treatable from becoming an issue that pulls you out of the race.
Each competitor is different but here are the steps they recommend managing your blisters and keep your feet running – both before and in the sweat and grit of the event…
PREPARE THE FEET ON YOUR SKIN:
This can take up to 60 days. That’s right. Sixty days. The most common process is similar to tanning leather, where the skin’s structure is transformed to be durable yet supple.
There is an extensive range of products to help you do this, including anti-friction creams such as Prodexine, Tuff-Foot and Nok. Substances used by vets to toughen animals’ feet pads can be useful – as can preparations containing Formalin, Picric acid, Salicylic acid, benzoin, alcohol, white spirit, talc, henna, shea butter and curry. Seek advice from other runners and experiment to find the most effective treatment for you, just do not ignore your foot prep.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHOES:
The ‘best’ styles are hotly debated, with design and function evolving each year. But for MdS the size should always be at least one (metric) size larger – and preferably two – than normal, due to foot swelling and elongation when racing beyond 30 kms. Break them in well before the event.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SOCKS:
Again, find the style and size that works for you. And wear them in. Remember your feet may also get bandaged during the race.
Essential for keeping the sand out. These (or their Velcro attachment) should be stitched just above the sole by a professional cobbler. Don’t just glue them as this will melt in the heat. Raidlight gaiters are excellent.
KEEP YOUR FEET CLEAN:
Foot hygiene during the race is essential. At the end of each stage, clean your feet thoroughly, using a dampened tissue to clear any sand from between your toes and around nail edges. But don’t soak or submerge them in water – this weakens the skin, increasing the risk of softening and infection.
KEEP YOUR FEET DRY:
Damp feet are susceptible to infection, so dry them rigorously, spreading your toes to expose them to the sun and air. Doc Trotters won’t look at your feet unless they have been disinfected and dried. Aerate your socks and shoes each day and do not walk barefoot around the bivouac area. Bring slip on (not thong) sandals to wear.
Want to know more? Head to www.runultra.co.uk for a wealth of information about everything to do with MdS, from how to train to how to pack your bag, to stories from past competitors. Join now for all the latest updates.
And don’t miss out on your chance to join a closed Facebook group for your specific race.