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Bad Feet at Badwater

August 2nd, 2006

The Badwater Zombies in Action

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.

gillian

A (mud) river runs through it

April 3rd, 2006

Muddy Inov-8 Terrocs

One of the reasons to run ultras that are 50 mile or longer is that you get to spend a whole day out there. We knew American River 50M would be like that for us. This race starts in the heart of Sacramento and follows bike paths and trails along the American River to Auburn, finishing at the Auburn Dam Overlook (yes, that means a big hill at the end). With the weather we’ve been having in normally sunny but now rainy CA, the trail portion of this run turned into a great mudfest. It’s always amazing the different types of mud you can discover in a single run: brown, swampy stuff, red, slippery stuff, the occasional section of shoe-sucking mud, and my favorite, chocolate pudding. Chocolate pudding on a hill was the best. Some runners attempted to go around mud, but sooner or later, everyone gave in and just went through the middle. One reason: the more you tried to avoid the mud, the more you would go through the poison oak.

The weather started off a little gloomy, but temperatures were great for running and the sun showed up a little bit. Volunteers at aid stations were in good spirits and so helpful as always. For this run you even get spectators along parts of the course, and crew people helping their runners–often runners attempting their first 50 miler. Seeing those runners cross the finish line is great. Norm announced runners as they finished, and would “encourage” them to run across the line (walking is NOT allowed at that point). As emotional the run is for first-timers, it still gets to me too, with this as my fifth AR50 finish. Because the race is point-to-point, you get a definite sense of awe about the distance covered. As you head west by car to return to Sacramento, you can see the downtown buildings marking the city way in the distance. It seems a long way to run.

gillian

New product stuff

February 3rd, 2006

So, imagine a trade show that’s really big. Now imagine that trade show is full of booths of all your favorite stuff related to running and outdoor sports, and all the people working there are dressed in outdoor cool clothing with the latest trail shoes and sandals instead of stuffy old business suits. Then imagine that you can buy anything you want! That’s kind of what the Outdoor Retailer show is like for us. The exhibitors at the show are all the vendors, ranging from popular ones you’ve heard of like Montrail, Brooks, Inov-8, Wigwam, to makers of raw goods, including high-tech fabrics and materials.

Since we’ve attended the show before (in the summer), we had our plan of attack before we started. Visit current vendors for new product, visit our list of planned vendors to add, and then shop around for cool new stuff. The current vendors had new things for us. Inov-8 has some new models coming soon, so we pre-ordered those, and Julbo has a new style of sunglasses that are great for trail runners. GU is adding a new flavor gel, which we got to try. Then we stopped by Powerbar. They are changing their gels, have a couple new flavors, and the bars are revamped too (not the chewy performance bars, but the other ones). We are definitely adding some bars to our product line. The trend there is toward natural ingredients–dried fruits, nuts, and not a whole lot else. There is a realization that people like ingredients they can pronounce.

For clothing, super light and super breathable are always demonstrated. It seemed like Gore-Tex was everywhere. The Gore-Tex branding is getting a big push and so many vendors display that label. I was interested in the offerings that are considered soft shells–zip tops of mid-weight fabric that have some wind-stopping qualities to them but are not waterproof. A few vendors had versions of the top with waterproof fabric over the shoulders, providing a great combination of comfort and protection from the elements. We have a fondness for Sierra Designs–friendly reps, reasonably priced items, and theirs was the first rain gear we bought for running back in 2000, which we used for the LA Marathon during a torential downpour (we were smiling a lot more than the runners in plastic bags).

As we walk the exhibit hall, some sales reps are more aggressive than others and want to hand out free samples. Some are handy, like lip balms and energy bars, but others, well, would you believe we came home with a “toilet in a bag”? Anyway, often the overly-friendly rep approach pays off, as we learn about products that we hadn’t even considered. Some are sort of wacky (kind of fitting for the name ZombieRunner) and others are so practical that of course we should have thought of them.

We brought back as many brochures as we could carry and placed a great batch of orders. We can’t wait for it all to show up. It’s all in a hard day’s work.

gillian