We had an amazing time helping out at the Kiehl’s 2006 Badwater Ultramarathon. We brought along Cool Off bandanas and Ultimate Directions FastDraw bottles, and runners and crew snapped them all up before the race. Each runner had a foot kit from us, to help prevent and treat blisters. So, when we headed out on the course looking for blister patients, we hoped that the kit would help.
John Vonhof, author of Fixing Your Feet, also joined us to repair blistered feet. John mostly made himself available with the medical team, while we scouted the course in the Zombie mobile. There were no blister events until later in the day, at Stovepipe Wells, mile 42.
At that point, the foot fixing was non-stop, from Shannon in her hotel room to Josef in the middle of the parking lot. Crews were always happy to see us, because they typically had tried something with the runner’s feet that didn’t work. We worked late, and then got a shower and a nap on the floor.
Early in the morning we headed out to Panamint Springs, mile 72. We found more patients there, and I found good chairs and a table on the front patio, which made it easier to work. I spend quite a while working on Heike, who had tried some other blister patches on the heel and ball of both feet. Eventually we drove the stretch from Panamint to Lone Pine, stopping for almost every runner to make sure things were going ok.
At Lone Pine, things were sporadically exciting. The gaps between runners were long and the runner visits usually brief. John was there too, so between us we fixed a few feet. I got the impression that most runners just wanted to leave well enough alone and get on up the climb to the finish. So, we eventually got to sleep that night before visiting the finish in the morning. As we parked at Whitney Portal and walked up, we saw Heike, who had just finished! She was so happy that I had fixed her feet. I was so happy to see her. Very cool. We also enjoyed seeing our friend Dan Marinsik finish, with a very happy crew.
We headed back to the Bay Area to get ready for the San Francisco Marathon Expo (we only had one day in between). Going on very little sleep, we set up at 8:00 am Friday for the 11:00 am opening of the expo. Boy was it busy! We had our Badwater shirts on, and surprisingly, we saw several Badwater runners who were also going to run the SF Marathon. Even more surprising was that one of those runners was Josef, my patient at Stovepipe. He had already thanked me for patching up his feet so that he could go from hobbling to actually running downhill after Townes Pass. His crew chief was really nice too. He said, “Hello Doctor.” We all smiled and they took photos and got some more blister stuff.
It was such a full week, but everything about it was great. Most of all, we had the chance to help runners achieve their goals. That’s the coolest thing of all.